Letters to the Editor

Letter: Court system

February 3, 2014


To the editor:

Gov. Brownback is again promoting a Kansas constitutional amendment to select Kansas Supreme Court Justices politically instead of our current “merit-based” process. After a three-year study in 2013, the League of Women Voters-Kansas concluded the current system provides the best basis for selecting judges independent of political considerations.

Our “merit-based” process has roots in pre-1940 Missouri after Tom Pendergast’s political machine influenced several judicial elections. Alarmed Missourians adopted a merit-based system in November 1940. This Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan has served as a model for 34 other states to fill judicial vacancies. According to www.statescourtsguide.com, 23 states use this method for their state supreme courts.

Kansans had similar alarm in 1956 when Gov. Hall, failing in his re-election attempt, resigned near the end of his term to have the lieutenant governor appoint him as a justice on the Kansas Supreme Court. Disgusted Kansans voted to amend the constitution, setting up the current “merit-based” process. It has worked well for nearly 60 years with no charges of corruption or scandal.

Brownback would have us step back 60 years and select justices as the U.S. Government does — a system so gridlocked that there are 100 vacancies in the federal court system. Only one other state, New Jersey, selects its justices in this manner, and Gov. Christie has similar gridlock. While our governor rejects most federal government policies, judicial selection is clearly the wrong one to adopt.


Scott Burkhart 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, sure. The recommendations made by the appointed panel of the Kansas Bar are impartial. On another note, I am selling the Kansas River bridge that joins North Lawrence and Downtown. I no longer have need of it and I thought I would let it go cheap if anyone is interested. (Sarcasm alert)

Cille King 3 years, 11 months ago

Scott, the only "appointed" members of the 9 person panel to review candidates for Justice are the 4 who are "appointed" by the Governor. Another 4 are "elected", one from each of the 4 congressional districts, the 9th, the chair, is "elected" at large.

We saw the system Gov. Brownback promotes last fall - as the Gov.'s staff attorney was selected, in private, for the Appellate Court.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 11 months ago

So you are in favor of letting Brownback appoint "in secret" judges as he just did for the appellate court? I don't want any governor, and definitely not Brownback, having the power to do this. The appointment process is not broken, so why break it?

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