University of Denver

Kansas Attorneys Open to Changes in Makeup of Nominating Commission

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

Conservative lawmakers are expected to pursue a change in the process for selecting Kansas’ appellate judges in 2013. Critics of the current process believe that lawyers have too much control, with five of the nine members of the judicial nominating commission elected by the state bar association. One proposal is to eliminate the nominating commission, giving the governor full discretion in making appointments, and require senate confirmation. The process for selecting court of appeals judges could be altered by statute, but a constitutional amendment would be required to change the process for choosing supreme court justices. The Kansas Bar Association recently adopted a resolution supporting the state’s “merit selection” process but expressing a willingness to change how members of the nominating commission are selected. A sitting supreme court justice and a law professor have weighed in on the debate.