University of Denver

Judicial Selection Changes Still on the Agenda in Kansas

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

Taking some lawmakers by surprise, prominent Republicans in the house and senate announced that they will continue their pursuit of a constitutional change to the process for selecting supreme court and court of appeals judges in the final days of this legislative session. A proposed constitutional amendment to alter the state's commission-based appointment process by abolishing the judicial nominating commission and requiring senate confirmation passed the senate in January but then stalled in the house. However, the legislature did adopt this modified federal selection process for the court of appeals by statute. The Kansas Bar Association, which supports the current selection process, has proposed a modification to the makeup of the nominating commission that legislative leaders say they are willing to consider, while the KBA says it is open to considering a compromise that includes senate confirmation. Voters must approve any constitutional change.