Archive for Monday, July 11, 2011

Judge Deanell Tacha supports former Kansas AG Steve Six’s nomination to her position on appellate court

July 11, 2011


Former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six

Former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six

Former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six is getting support of the judge he’s trying to replace on the federal appellate bench as the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to debate his nomination on Thursday.

Lawrence resident Deanell Reece Tacha, who left the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to become law dean at Pepperdine University, wrote a letter June 24 in support of Six, her former law clerk and a Lawrence attorney.

“I can say with confidence that Stephen Six possesses the demeanor, intellect and integrity that characterizes the finest judges in the nation,” wrote Tacha, who was appointed to the 10th circuit 25 years ago by President Ronald Reagan. “He is open and independent in his judgment. He demonstrates the highest standards and professionalism in everything that he does.”

President Barack Obama nominated Six for the position this year, and he has to win Senate confirmation.

Tacha’s letter was addressed to Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Pat. Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee’s ranking Republican. During the May confirmation hearing, Grassley questioned Six about abortion issues stemming from his tenure as Kansas attorney general.

Tacha also sent copies to Kansas’ two Republican U.S. senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, who have said they oppose the nomination of Six, a Democrat, to the Denver-based appellate court. Roberts and Moran, who do not serve on the judiciary committee, in June said they couldn’t support Six’s nomination based on his qualifications and confirmation hearing testimony. Roberts said Six was not forthcoming during the May hearing.

Supporters and opposition

Kansas and national anti-abortion groups have opposed Six’s nomination for his ties to former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius, Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary, elevated Six to attorney general in 2008 when he was a Douglas County judge. He replaced Paul Morrison who resigned amid a sex scandal.

Six — who grew up in Lawrence and is the son of Fred N. Six, a retired Kansas Supreme Court justice — lost re-election last November to Republican Derek Schmidt.

In his judiciary committee questionnaire, Six wrote that Sebelius put him in touch the White House Counsel’s Office after he asked her how he could express interest in replacing Tacha.

When asked about the opposition from Roberts and Moran, Six’s supporters pointed to his legal credentials as an attorney, judge and attorney general. An American Bar Association committee rated him as “well qualified” for the position.

In her letter, Tacha said Six had to make difficult decisions as attorney general and as an appellate judge he wouldn’t be required to factor in “policy calls that are required in the executive branch.”

“Instead, I know from working closely with him in my chambers that he would remain fully committed to limiting his role to interpreting the legal precedent faithfully and constraining himself to the proper role of the judiciary,” she wrote.

Overland Park attorney Robert Stephan, a Republican who served as Kansas attorney general from 1979 to 1995, also wrote a letter supporting Six, as did attorneys general of 29 states and territories, including eight Republicans.

Though he is friends with Roberts and Moran, Stephan said he considered Six to be well qualified as a judge.

“I don’t understand why they’re opposed to him,” Stephan said. “I haven’t found anything in his background and his ability that would lead to their objection.”

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, said Tacha’s support could be important for Six because his two home state senators have chosen not to support him.

“I don’t know what the response will be to that, but I think it comes with the credibility of her long service on the bench and as chief judge,” he said. “I think that is important, and I think it’s difficult for the GOP members of the panel in voting to ignore that.”

A spokeswoman for Roberts said Friday that there was no change on his position in opposition to Six’s nomination after receiving Tacha’s letter.

Judiciary committee

After two delays, judiciary committee members are scheduled to debate Six’s nomination as part of their 9 a.m. business meeting. Democrats outnumber Republicans on the committee 10 to 8, so it’s unlikely the panel would vote against recommending Six to the full Senate, Tobias said.

Sen. Grassley of Iowa is not supporting Six’s nomination, spokeswoman Beth Levine said Friday.

Tobias, the law professor, said it would be key to see if Six wins any Republican votes from the panel because a full vote on the Senate floor opens up new questions, like a possible filibuster.

Tobias said, “We just have to see how it plays out.”


Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

Congratulations to Judge Tacha and General Stephan for rising above partisan politics and doing the right think. Shame on Roberts and Moran.

4accountability 6 years, 10 months ago

As I read the article that was my thought exactly. Steve Six is well qualified for this position and we would do well to have more individuals like him.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 10 months ago

Nothing like playing politices with the judiciary.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

“I don’t know what the response will be to that, but I think it comes with the credibility of her long service on the bench and as chief judge,” he said. “I think that is important, and I think it’s difficult for the GOP members of the panel in voting to ignore that.”

Never misunderestimate the obstructionist mindset and abilities of Republicans.

rtwngr 6 years, 10 months ago

Six was not interested in upholding the law. Six was interested in taking care of those that contributed to Sebelius so that one day he would get his judicial appointment. Nothing like playing politics with the judiciary, huh KeithMiles05?

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 10 months ago

rtwng is talking about abortion politics, plain and simple. There is no basis for this claim.

Six did two things when it came to abortion. One, he is the only prosecutor to ever take George Tiller to court (Phill Kline never did that).

Two, he argued successfully that Kansas law give access to personal medical records at KDHE to the Attorney General only, not to a District Attorney. The statute is clear, and one DA was trying to go around the statute.

But for the radical abortion zealots, that didn't fit their Phill Kline narrative, so they make unfounded claims about Six and "upholding the law".

Joseph Jarvis 6 years, 10 months ago

@rtwngr said "Six was not interested in upholding the law."

What law(s) did he not uphold?

thebigspoon 6 years, 10 months ago

I call BS! Six has done nothing but uphold the law. Get your facts straight.

Alceste 6 years, 10 months ago

Here's the message one get backs after emailing Moran:

This message is to let you know that I received your email. Your thoughts are important to me and I will respond as soon as possible. I welcome you to use the following services to stay connected and to contribute your ideas and feedback:

Best regards,


See that there? Some little kid is gonna get back to me via Facebook. Grand.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

Yup. I got the same response. Sen. Roberts said he'd get back to me ... Last month.

thebigspoon 6 years, 10 months ago

I have sent four emails to each of these partisan hacks, and have received the same message all four times. Therre is no such thing as "representing" the voters of the state in either office. Nice going, guys.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 10 months ago

And Roberts and Moran aren't playing politics, rtwngr? I guess your name explains it. Had Six been a republican, would you have felt the same way? Are you naive enough, when it comes to politics, to think what you're suggesting has never happened in both parties? If so, I want some of what you're having. Does that come with blinders?

Alceste 6 years, 10 months ago

and this is what you get back when you email Roberts:

Thank you for contacting my office via e-mail. This response is to let you know that your e-mail arrived. Despite the large volume of e-mail my office receives daily, every effort is made to respond to your concerns in a timely fashion. If your message is urgent, please call my Washington, DC office at 202-224-4774. You may also call one of my offices in Kansas: Overland Park, 913-451-9343; Topeka, 785-295-2745; Wichita, 316-263-0416; Dodge City, 620-227-2244. Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.

Now, by the by.....I contacted both of these elected fat cats on June 20, 2011 about this Six matter. I have not had any cogent reply; not of any sort. shrug

Richard Payton 6 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Six is qualified so give him the job.

verity 6 years, 10 months ago

Stephen Six follows the law. That's not acceptable.

WilburM 6 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

WilburM 6 years, 10 months ago

Tacha's announcement is a stand-up move by a conservative Republican. Would that our senators had the same backbone.

somedude20 6 years, 10 months ago

"...he has to win Senate confirmation" What, like Minute to Win it? If he does not answer the questions right, he is going to be strapped to a biplane wing and flown away only to be dropped back in Kansas? Win it sir!

Joseph Jarvis 6 years, 10 months ago

@Alceste: I gave up hope of an explanation when I saw this K.C. Star editorial. When an elected official doesn't respond to the state's largest newspaper calling him a coward, you know he's blowing the public off.

K.C. Star: Kansas' cowardly senators say nothing but 'no'

verity 6 years, 10 months ago

I haven't received a reply either, other than the canned response. I'm going to do it again---at least keep the pressure on.

wastewatcher 6 years, 10 months ago

Six has a record of being ULTRA LIBERAL and has been a government parasite for virtual all of his adult life and could not win re-election to the job which he was appointed to by his ULTRA LIBERAL sponsor Sebelius. Moran and Roberts are doing right for Kansans and Lets hope they prevailo.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

Examples of being "ultra liberal" in his professional positions and decisions?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

In the black-and-white world of Republican True Believers, facts aren't necessary. If you're not 100% with 'em, you're 100% agin 'em.

Joseph Jarvis 6 years, 10 months ago

@wastewatcher: His political views and electoral results are irrelevant in judicial appointments. The relevant questions are whether he sufficiently understands law, will impartially apply it, do so ethically, and any judicial philosophies.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 10 months ago

Wow, you even think Sebelius was ultra liberal? You are crazy!

MyName 6 years, 10 months ago

lol wut. Did you like, not pay attention at all during Kline's four year tenure?

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 10 months ago

Nothing says "ultra-liberal" like being endorsed by the NRA. And Steve Six was endorsed by the NRA because he showed a commitment to upholding Kansas law.

Poor little Kline followers, don't you have any real complaints?

William Weissbeck 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm still waiting for that ambush interview of Roberts and Moran by one of the Kansas newspapers. Everyone else is letting their positions and reasons be known. Shouldn't we expect the same from the two guys that actually have a say in the process?

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