Topeka — Many abortion opponents and conservative Republicans in Kansas are pushing to give the governor and legislators more influence over the appointment of appellate court judges, but a proposal seen as a step toward accomplishing their goals has stalled in the Legislature.
The state Senate rejected a bill Thursday to have the governor appoint new Court of Appeals judges, subject to Senate confirmation. The measure would end the screening of applications for the court by a nominating commission controlled by attorneys, expand the governor’s potential options in making appointments and give legislators a direct role.
The Senate’s 22-17 vote against the measure showed Democrats and moderate Republicans still have misgivings about changing how Court of Appeals judges and state Supreme Court justices are selected, despite concerns that the process is dominated unfairly by lawyers and not open enough to the public.
Critics of the bill remain suspicious because the measure, passed by the House last year, has the backing of Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican. The bill also has support from the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life and the small-government, anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity.
Some legislators, even critics of the bill, expect other proposals to change the judicial selection process to emerge this year, though not as dramatic as the changes in the bill rejected Thursday.