Kansas Supreme Court

J. Stephen Conn, flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas House committee approved rival proposals for changing how state Supreme Court justices are selected.

Justices would be elected under one proposal clearing the Judiciary Committee. Under the other plan, the governor would appoint the justices directly, subject to Senate confirmation.

Currently, a lawyer-led commission screens applicants for Supreme Court vacancies and names three finalists. The governor must pick one, with no role for lawmakers.

Kansas lawmakers are considering changing the way state Supreme Court justices are selected, but lawyers say the move would politicize the court.

The House Judicial Committee conducted a hearing Wednesday on two measures that would amend the Kansas Constitution. One change would select Supreme Court justices in partisan elections, while the other would allow the governor to appoint them.

Representatives of three lawyers' associations told panel that either change would weaken the independence of the judiciary.

wikipedia.org

Secretary of State Kris Kobach says Kansas Supreme Court decisions in school funding and death penalty cases show the justices are not as competent as federal judges.

Kobach was among the witnesses testifying on Thursday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in favor of changing how state Supreme Court justices are chosen.

Kobach says the state's current system has produced what he called "mediocre results." He believes federal judges are better qualified for their jobs.

Defenders of the current system say it's worked well for decades.

A former top aide to Gov. Sam Brownback is among three finalists for a vacant seat on the Kansas Supreme Court.

A special nominating commission has chosen Court of Appeals Judges Caleb Stegall and Karen Arnold-Burger and state District Judge Merlin Wheeler from 13 applicants for the high court. Brownback has 60 days to appoint one of them to the court.

Stegall was Brownback's chief counsel until the governor appointed him to the state Court of Appeals in January of this year. Arnold-Burger has served on that court since 2011.

Former Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz has taken the oath of office to join the federal appeals court that handles cases from six western and Plains states. The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals says Moritz's temporary chambers will be in Lawrence.

President Barack Obama nominated Moritz in 2013 and she was confirmed in May. Her departure gives Gov. Sam Brownback his first appointment to the state's highest court.

The Kansas Supreme Court says the state has created unconstitutional inequalities between school districts by cutting state funds.

School districts and parents filed a lawsuit asking the state to increase education funding. The court says lawmakers created inequality when they cut certain education funds during the recession.

Justices say lawmakers must solve the problem by July, and some estimates indicate that a fix could cost more than $100 million.

Joyce Eisenmenger Morrison is with the group Schools for Fair Funding, which filed the lawsuit.

A long fight over how Kansas funds its public schools will move from the courts to the Capitol next year after the state Supreme Court issues a ruling.

The Kansas Supreme Court heard death penalty appeals Tuesday from two brothers convicted in a quadruple murder.

Court Set To Hear First Hard 50 Appeal Since Law Change

Oct 21, 2013

Kansas Supreme Court justices are set to hear the first appeal of a Hard 50 prison sentence since lawmakers changed the way the sentence is imposed during a September special session.

In the Kansas Supreme Court hearing on school funding this week, justices had some pointed questions for the attorneys.

At issue is whether the state should increase education spending. But how much can we gather about the possible outcome of the case from the questions and comments made by the justices?

Here’s just one example from the oral arguments:

When Justice Eric Rosen pointed out that the state had agreed to increase education funding in a past lawsuit.

“Essentially, it stands before me in my eyes as a broken promise,” said Rosen.

Pages