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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Brownback won’t disclose appeals court applicants

June 27, 2013, 1:38 p.m. Updated June 27, 2013, 3:15 p.m.

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— Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t releasing the names of applicants for a new position on the Kansas Court of Appeals, even though the names of all candidates for the court and the state Supreme Court have been disclosed for more than 30 years.

The Legislature added a seat to the state’s second-highest court as of July 1, and changed the process for selecting its judges. Court of Appeals members will now be appointed by the governor, subject to state Senate confirmation, with no role for the nine-member judicial nominating commission.

The process for selecting Supreme Court justices is spelled out in the Kansas Constitution, and it won’t change. The nominating commission will continue to screen applicants and name three finalists. The governor is required to pick one of them, with no role for legislators.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the decision by the Republican governor is being criticized by Democratic legislative leaders and the chairwoman of the statewide commission that previously screened applicants for the Court of Appeals. Supporters of the new selection process for Court of Appeals judges say it’s more accountable to the public and prevents attorneys — who elect a majority of the nominating commission — from dominating the process.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the governor is treating Court of Appeals appointments as he does appointments to his Cabinet or state boards and commissions. With non-judicial appointments, recent governors have not disclosed a list of everyone they’re considering.

Hawley said Kansans can weigh in on the judicial selection with senators after Brownback announces his pick. The governor’s office would say only that it had received “a number of applications” for the Court of Appeals seat.

“We will not be releasing the names of the applicants,” she said.

The nominating commission has released the names of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals applicants since 1981, and it now schedules public interviews with the candidates, though its deliberations are closed.

Commission Chairwoman Anne Burke, an Overland Park attorney, said Brownback’s office should let Kansas residents know who’s under consideration for judicial appointments. She called his decision not to release names “appalling and terrible.”

“Now, there is absolutely zero public input,” she said.

Brownback and his allies also pushed this year to alter the selection process for Supreme Court justices. The Senate adopted a proposed constitutional change to have the governor appoint and the Senate confirm justices and Court of Appeals judges, but supporters couldn’t get enough votes in the House, where a two-thirds majority was needed for the proposal to get on the ballot.

Supporters of the current system contend that it minimizes the politics involved in selecting appellate court judges and focuses on their legal experiences and other qualifications.

Comments

boiled 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Everyone should be happy! SB is merely emulating our current president's modus operandi. Fundamental Transformation is here to stay!

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Rick Hird 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Welcome to Brownbackistan. The Senate has been controlled by Republicans since Kansas was formed. So, Kansans will have Court of Appeals judges selected by the Republican Governor in secret, subject to the rubber stamp of the Republican controlled Senate, without any input from the public. What could go wrong with that????

Everyman, the difference between selection of Federal judges and the new process for KS Court of Appeals judges is that the U.S. Senate hasn't been dominated by Republicans since it was formed. We've seen many instances where U.S. Senate confirmation actually meant something. Remember, Brownback cleaned out even the moderate Republicans.

The nominating commission system was created due to abuse by the governor many years ago and has served Kansans well. This is a Brownback power grab, pure and simple. The two party system has served our country well, but in Kansas it is rapidly disappearing. This isn't healthy for the future of our state.

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James Nelson 10 months ago

Isn't it nice of Governor Brownback to want to shield Kansans from the horrible task of selecting appeals courts judges. Now we won't know who has been selected until the selection has been made and referred to the senate who is safely tucked away in the governor's hip pocket. Thank you Sam for injecting total politics and secrecy into our state's court system. We will now wind up with an appeals court about as sharp as some of his former IT, KDHE and KCC picks. But you know what? I'll bet every one of them will decide against abortion every chance they get. Now there is real even handedness in the application of the law, isn't it?

Sam likes to brag that Kansas is open for business and he beckons those from out of state to come. Well, if their coming to Kansas is to be based on greed and selfishness I don't want the SOBs coming. We have far too many of those types in Kansas already.

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EveryMan 10 months ago

Funny how the selection process Brownback asked for and received is the same process used for all federal judges, yet somehow this is now all just a vast conservative conspiracy. "Governor appointment subject to Senate confirmation" is a system that is more accountable to the people than the old lawyer dominated "inside baseball" system.

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chootspa 10 months ago

"Eileen Hawley said the governor is treating Court of Appeals appointments as he does appointments to his Cabinet or state boards and commissions."

And that would be precisely the problem right there.

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oldexbeat 10 months ago

David Koch, Charles Koch and -- bonus point -- Vern Miller .. that's my bet.

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Kate Rogge 10 months ago

Brownback and Kobach are lawless scum. IMO.

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Tony Kisner 10 months ago

Of the people and for the right people.

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kansas_cynic 10 months ago

Brownie will release list once the Koch's approve the candidates and tell him who to select.

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Lane Signal 10 months ago

"Supporters of the new selection process for Court of Appeals judges say it’s more accountable to the public..." It seems like the supporters of the new process must not understand what the word "accountable" means. Or perhaps they are confused as to what "more" means. Keeping the list of applicants secret and giving Brownie the final word seems more like consolidation of authority. Maybe supporters of this new process think "accountable" means fascist.

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somebodynew 10 months ago

When you are a dictator, why would you want to bother telling anyone beforehand ??

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Hooligan_016 10 months ago

It's all coming together.

/at the expense of Kansans

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Bob Reinsch 10 months ago

He can't discuss it until after he get's the "approved" list from his handlers.

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