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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Down to the Wire in Kansas



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With the Kansas primary just days away, the Kansas City Star has a story on how the election cycle could be significant for one of Governor Brownback’s agenda items: state judicial selection reform. The story explains:

Conservatives are tired of what they believe are liberal, activist judges — a label generally assigned to those they think let their politics trump deference to the constitution. They want to move from a system that uses a panel with a majority of lawyers picking judicial candidates to one they believe would give the general public more input.

“The conservative voice in Kansas is not heard on the bench, as far as I am concerned,” said Johnson County state Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, who’s running for the Senate. . . .

In key Senate races across Johnson County, conservative Republicans Jeff Melcher, David Harvey and Greg Smith favor changing the system. Their moderate Republican opponents, Pat Colloton, Kay Wolf and Joe Beveridge, support the current system.

If the conservatives end up with a majority of the Senate, which is a very real possibility, Kansas could quickly become a leader in the national effort to replace the Missouri Plan with judicial elections or something more like the federal method. Tennessee has already taken a strong step toward adopting a modified federal method, and Missouri voters will decide this November whether to substantially improve their Missouri Plan. I don’t expect trial lawyers or the Soros network of Missouri Plan advocates to take this activity very passively.  



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