Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last week appointed his former legal counsel — appeals court judge Caleb Stegall — to the state Supreme Court.
That set off rounds of complaining from liberals and Democratic politicians, aimed at a conservative judge who opposes abortion and harshly questions additional educational funding in the state.
As expected, Paul Davis — Brownback’s chief opponent this November — attacked the move.
“Instead of choosing a judge with more than 20 years on the bench, he chose his political ally with less than nine months of judicial experience to fill a vacancy on Kansas’ highest court,” Davis said in a statement.
My reaction to the criticism: Stop whining.
The more constructive advice: Get busy and make a change in the governor’s office if you’re so upset.
As pointed out here, Brownback has the power to appoint Supreme Court justices because the people of Kansas selected him to be governor. Elections have consequences.
It’s fine for Davis to contend Stegall is unqualified for the position. Others can weigh in, too.
But if you don’t like Brownback’s judicial appointments, kick him out.
Brownback certainly isn’t changing his spots, whether it’s on abortion, education funding or other issues important to many Kansans. So he appointed someone who mimics his conservative views.
“I believe Caleb Stegall to be one of the most qualified people ever to go on the Kansas Supreme Court,” the governor said last week.
Yes, Brownback could be wrong: Stegall may not be a good justice. And if enough Kansas voters agree at one of his future retention elections, Stegall could be out of a job.
Of course, retentions are usually automatic for almost all judges, including Supreme Court justices, who often serve as long as they want.
That’s why it really matters who’s serving as Kansas governor.
Paul Davis and his supporters ought to remember that come election time. Indeed, the appointment of Stegall should give them even more reasons to try to get out the vote to oust Brownback in November.
Because if he is re-elected, guess who’s going to have the power to nominate more Supreme Court justices from 2015 to 2018?