Judicial Reform in Kansas on Hold

Thank you to Alan Cobb of Americans For Prosperity, Kansas for this report on this needed measure for judicial reform in Kansas.

The current system of Kansas Supreme Court selection, the mis-named “merit system,” is a secretive, closed system dominated by lawyers. Kansas lawyers elect themselves to the Kansas Supreme Court selection board. There are no campaign finance filings, no reports, no public meetings. It is time to bring this system out into the light of day.

However two attempts to reform this system failed in the Kansas Senate this week. A proposed constitutional amendment that would require Senate confirmation of Kansas Supreme Court Justices failed yesterday, March 9th. What is worse is that this legislation had 28 co-sponsors and only needed 27 votes to pass. Six senators switched their support for the bill they co-sponsored ensuring the failure of the measure. The six Senators who switched their support were:

Sen. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton
Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan
Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills
Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac
Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka

Sen. Ruth Teichmann, R-Stafford, abstained from voting. (ed: See Karl Peterjohn’s article Report From the Kansas Statehouse, March 9, 2006 to understand what “passing” means in this context.)

On March 8th, Sen. Jim Barnett proposed an amendment which would have scrapped the so-called “merit system” completely and replaced it with Gubernatorial selection and Senate confirmation. Barnett’s amendment was defeated 25-15.

Senators voting against: Allen, Apple, Barone, Betts, Brungardt, Emler, Francisco, Gilstrap, Goodwin, Hawley, Hensley, Kelly, Lee, McGinn, Morris, Pine, Reitz, Schmidt D, Schmidt V, Schodorf, Steineger, Teichman, Umbarger, Vratil and Wysong.

Senators voting for Barnett’s reform measure: Barnett, Brownlee, Bruce, Donovan, Huelskamp, Jordan, Journey, O’Connor, Ostmeyer, Palmer, Petersen, Pyle, Taddiken, Wagle, Wilson.

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