Kan. Senate Defeats Bill To Change Judicial Selection Process

February 27, 2012 — The Kansas Senate on Thursday voted 22-17 to reject a bill (SB 83) backed by antiabortion-rights groups and Gov. Sam Brownback (R) that would have restructured the process for naming appellate court judges, the AP/Columbus Republic reports.

Under current law, a state nominating commission selects up to three candidates for each appellate court vacancy and submits those names to the governor, who makes a selection. Voters later decide whether to retain judges, voting every six years for state Supreme Court justices and every four years for appellate court judges.

The measure rejected on Thursday would have ended the screening process, expanded the governor's options for making appointments and given the Legislature a direct role in the process.

Critics of the current judicial selection process say it is not open enough to the public and is heavily dominated by lawyers. Some lawmakers, including opponents of the bill, expect that other proposals will emerge to modify the process.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said Thursday's vote was "indeed an abortion vote," adding that too many liberal judges sit on the state Supreme Court (Hanna, AP/Columbus Republic, 2/24).