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KS Supreme Court Justice Defends Judicial Selection System

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss speaking to reporters. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss speaking to reporters. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is defending the state’s system for selecting Supreme Court justices.

Governor Sam Brownback last week said the system should be changed to be, as he called it, more “democratic.” His proposals would allow the governor to pick nominees or have voters directly elect justices.

Nuss says the current system allows competition and is open to anyone who meets the requirements.

“You could have perhaps 5,000 applications or more for an opening. So it’s democratic for all the people in Kansas who would be qualified to apply,” says Nuss.

Nuss has concerns about bringing politics into the system if it’s changed.

Some lawmakers have criticized the current system for giving attorneys too much influence. Under the current system, a nominating commission chooses qualified candidates. The governor then chooses from those candidates.

Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.