A recent change in Kansas law has re-ignited the debate on how judges are selected to the bench. In this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske examines the methods for seating judges, and who should hold the final say in how they are chosen.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday that changes the way some judges in Kansas are selected. Under the new system, the governor will select candidates for the state appeals courts. The nominees will then need to be approved by the Senate.
The current system involves a nominating commission that selects candidates. The governor then chooses from those candidates. Brownback says the current system gives too much power to attorneys, who hold five of the nine seats on the commission.
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.