The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill that would change how appeals court judges are selected in the state. The bill would allow the governor to appoint appellate court judges, who would then be confirmed by the state Senate.
Critics of the current system say it isn't democratic enough, because a nine-person nominating commission selects candidates. Five of the nine are attorneys. Representative Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican, says the change would be a step in the right direction.
“A process that ensures some measure of democratic accountability is crucial in promoting confidence in --and respect for-- the rule of law,” says Kinzer.
Representative Steven Becker is a Republican from Buhler, and a retired district court judge. He says the motivation for the bill is that the political makeup in the legislature has changed, but the courts haven't. He says the proposal is a bad idea.
“We cannot have the law change with the political wind. Instead, we need insulate and protect the court and the judiciary from the winds of change.”
The bill will now be considered by the Kansas Senate.