KRIS W. KOBACH: BUDGET WOES LINKED TO HOW JUSTICES ARE CHOSEN

Kobach a couple weeks ago in the Wichita Eagle:

Kansas’ 2009 legislative session has been dominated thus far by the budget crisis, which is hardly surprising. But all of that attention on the shrinking coffers has overshadowed an equally important, and related, debate — whether Kansas should change its method of selecting state Supreme Court justices.

The House Judiciary Committee recently heard testimony on House Concurrent Resolution 5005, which would scrap the current Supreme Court Nominating Commission and replace it with the federal model — allowing the governor broader discretion to pick nominees, but subjecting the nominees to Senate confirmation.

At the hearing, no fewer than seven law professors showed up to testify. Five (including me) supported the proposal. Two defended the status quo.

Twenty-two states use some form of nominating commission. But Kansas has the most extreme version in the country. Only Kansas gives its lawyers the power to select a majority of the commission’s members. This creates an institutional bias that favors more power for courts and more profit for attorneys. Moreover, the commission makes its decisions behind closed doors without any accountability to the public.

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