League of Women Voters seeks to get names of judicial applicants from Brownback

? The Kansas League of Women Voters has filed a request under state law to try to get Gov. Sam Brownback to disclose the names of those applying for a judicial position on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Brownback, who will make the judicial appointment, has refused to divulge the names of applicants.

Prior to this year, appointments to the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals were made by the governor from a list of nominees provided by a nominating commission. That commission had since 1981 revealed the names of those applying.

But Brownback and his allies changed that law this year to give the governor the power to fill positions on the Court of Appeals pending confirmation by the state Senate. Supporters of changing that law said the nominating commission process was too closed off to the public and that the new system mirrored that used on the federal level.

Using the Kansas Open Records Act, the Kansas League of Voters, with 700 members in 10 local leagues, has asked Brownback for the names of applicants for the vacancy.

“Seeking transparency in government on behalf of League members throughout Kansas, I look forward to receiving your response to our request,” said the filing from Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas.

But Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Brownback, defended keeping the names of applicants secret. “This process provides transparency and accountability while maintaining confidentiality to these judicial applicants and ensuring our ability to have a broad pool of highly qualified candidates,” Hawley said.

Brownback’s office disseminated to the media copies of an article from the conservative National Review’s website that described as “silly” criticisms of Brownback over not disclosing the names of the judicial applicants.

“The new process being used for Kansas Court of Appeals appointments mirrors the advice-and-consent process set forth in the U.S. Constitution. I don’t recall any major advocacy organizations, in Kansas or elsewhere, calling on President Obama to make the names of his judicial applicants public,” the article states.