NRL News

Kansas Supreme Court nominating process is flawed

by | Nov 21, 2019

By Jeanne Gawdun, director of government relations, Kansans for Life.

Editor’s note. This appeared in The Leavenworth Times and is reposted with the author’s permission.

Wichita State University emeritus professor H. Edward Flentje’s recent diatribe against pro-life Kansans demands a response.

Kansans for Life is the state’s largest pro-life organization, and our members come from all walks of life. What unites us is our respect for human life, born and preborn, and our desire to protect the vulnerable among us.

The people of Kansas have a right to self-govern, and we exercise that right by electing legislators to represent us at the statehouse on a variety of issues, including abortion.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Wichita was the “late-term abortion capital of the world,” and abortionists in Kansas were racking up injuries, even deaths, in clinics with conditions deemed “worse than Third World.” There was a strong public outcry and bipartisan majorities in the Kansas Legislature adopted reasonable regulations on the abortion industry, which had proven it could not police itself.

Those protective laws have been in place until last April, when the Kansas Supreme Court reinterpreted our state Constitution to insulate abortion from regulation by the people of Kansas through their elected officials. This was an outrageous power grab by an activist court, undoing decades of work reflecting citizens’ legislative intent. Nominations to the state Supreme Court have been controlled by a lawyer-dominated, nine-member nominating panel. The governor chooses one of three names forwarded by the panel, but the nominee does not go through any state Senate confirmation.

KFL finds that process defective and supports Senate confirmation because it is confirmation hearings where hard questions are fielded, mirroring the voice of the people. Attaining a seat on the second highest state court, the Court of Appeals, has recently been made subject to Senate confirmation. In the interest of transparency, Kansans for Life chose to inform the public of the pro-abortion ideologies of some of the applicants for the current open seat on the state Supreme Court.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Evelyn Wilson’s family has a long history of contributing heavily to Gov. Kelly and other pro-abortion politicians. The fact that her occupation was listed on some of her husband’s donations was strange and certainly called into question the independence of those contributions.

During the candidate interviews, the attorney members of the nominating panel failed to ask any tough questions and then commenced a bizarre voting process, as recounted by citizens attending the meeting.

After the first vote, four candidates had each received a majority of the panel’s votes. Logically, the top three names would be sent to the governor. But that did not happen, and the convoluted voting commenced to get Wilson into the mix.

The end result was that Wilson, who had never even received a majority of the commission’s votes until the belabored final round, ended up on the final list of three names headed to the governor, two of the four candidates whom the panel had previously found more qualified, did not.

It seems quite obvious to us that the process to put justices on the state’s highest court is not based on “merit selection,” but rather, “smoke and mirrors selection.”

Categories: Judicial