A group of former Kansas legislators was right in urging Gov. Sam Brownback to change his mind and disclose the names of applicants for a new Court of Appeals judgeship, Justice at Stake said on Monday.
“We strongly support the call by Traditional Republicans for Common Sense for Gov. Sam Brownback to fulfill his transparency pledge,” JAS Acting Executive Director Liz Seaton said in a statement. “If the governor doesn’t invoke transparency until he has picked a nominee, it would mean a huge step backward for fair courts in Kansas.”
Last week, Brownback’s office signaled that under a new law for selection of Court of Appeals judges, he was going to jettison more than three decades of precedent and keep secret the names of applicants for a newly created judgeship (see Gavel Grab).
The new law dismantled a judicial nominating commission process for screening applicants and recommending them to the governor for appointment. Now, the governor has outright appointment authority, subject to state Senate confirmation.
“Kansans want their judges selected based on qualifications, not partisan politics or back-room deals. Justice at Stake warned earlier that the new law threatens to erode Kansans’ trust in an impartial Court of Appeals,” Seaton said. “When judicial selection takes place behind closed doors, Kansans are left in the dark — and the potential for eroding trust in a key court is escalated.”
The Kansas Values Institute has launched an online petition seeking greater disclosure by Brownback. Justice at Stake urged Kansans to consider signing the petition.