By State Rep. Blaine Finch, 59th District, Franklin and Osage Counties
Greetings to all of you from Topeka. This week the Legislature voted down a controversial Constitutional amendment that would have dismantled the Kansas system of judicial selection and replaced it with the same system being used by D.C. politicians in our federal courts.
Recent weeks been wrought with political games and threats on this issue. Many struggled under pressure from Topeka lobbyists and the governor’s office, who pushed them to implement the dysfunctional federal system. But, our Kansas Constitutional system – which has granted us fair and impartial courts through three separate but equal branches of government for more than a century – is simply too important to throw away. That is why I voted against their attempt to dismantle the Kansas system.
Here is why I voted to protect our Kansas system of judicial selection:
Kansas and 23 other states use merit selection to ensure fair and impartial courts.
Under merit selection, Supreme Court justices are vetted by an independent commission that considers each nominee’s legal experience and qualifications. The Kansas commission, which is made up of five attorneys and four citizens, then recommends the three most qualified nominees to the governor for his consideration. The governor then selects which nominee shall be appointed to the court. While the merit selection model gives the governor a key role in the process, it does not grant him a blank check to appoint friends and political cronies at will.