University of Denver

Kansas Merit Selection System at Risk

IAALS Intern

Governor Sam Brownback and his conservative allies have gained substantial majorities in both houses of the Kansas Legislature as a result of the recent general election. With this support, it is predicted that in early 2013 Governor Brownback will propose a constitutional amendment replacing the current merit selection system for the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals with partisan elections along with term limits to create turnover on the benches.

Kansas' court system is ranked fifth in the nation overall in the Institute for Legal Reform's 2012 Lawsuit Climate Survey. Additionally, the Kansas courts are ranked eighth in terms of judicial impartiality, ninth in judicial competence, and sixth in judicial fairness. Advocates for the merit-based selection system fear that a partisan election system would threaten the established independence and quality of the courts.