Varying Approaches to Transparency in Appointing State and Federal Judges

July 10, 2013

As IAALS Online covered last week, controversy arose in Kansas over Governor Brownback's announcement that he would not release the names of applicants for a court of appeals vacancy. The governor initially rejected a petition filed by the League of Women Voters of Kansas requesting that applicants' names be released, but he may be reconsidering that decision. A poll conducted by the Kansas Values Institute indicated that 71 percent of Kansans support such public disclosure.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan screening committee established by Wisconsin's U.S. senators to assist them in recommending potential federal judges to the White House also plans to keep confidential the names of the ten applicants it will interview, as provided in the committee's charter. A similar committee in Florida, however, uses an entirely transparent process under its rules of procedure, opening to the public all applications and interviews of candidates and accepting public comment.