Judicial selection bill is on its way to Brownback

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

Legislation giving the Kansas governor and lawmakers more power in appointing Court of Appeals judges is on its way to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The Senate gave the measure final approval Wednesday on a vote of 28-12.

The House passed it earlier this month, and Brownback is expected to sign it.

The measure would give the governor the authority to appoint Court of Appeals judges, subject to Senate confirmation.

It abolishes the attorney-led commission that screens applicants and nominates three finalists.

The governor now makes the appointment, with no role for lawmakers.

Supporters contend the new process will be more open and less influenced by lawyers. Opponents see no need for change.

The current system was adopted by a constitutional amendment in 1958 that ended the practice of electing Supreme Court justices. It was approved by 60 percent of Kansas voters.

Advocates of the current system contend it has greatly reduced the politics involved in selecting appellate judges, and they see proposed changes as a threat to the court system’s independence.

Many lawmakers want to change a similar selection process for the Kansas Supreme Court, but that would require amending the state constitution.