Kansas Voters Challenge Process for Filling Supreme Court Spot

1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510

Thursday, August 26, 2010
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone 812/232-2434; Fax 812/235-3685; jboppjr@aol.com

Kansas Voters Challenge Process for Filling Supreme Court Spot

Four Kansas voters filed suit today in federal court to stop the current system for selecting state judges in Kansas, arguing that the current system denies ordinary Kansas voters an equal voice in selecting justices for the Kansas Supreme Court.

Robert E. Davis, the former Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, resigned his position on the Court shortly before his death on August 4, 2010. Under Kansas law, nominations for his replacement are made by the nine member Kansas Supreme Court Nominations Commission. Only candidates nominated by the Commission may be appointed by the Governor. Since all nominees allowed to move forward by the Commission may be opposed to the Governor, the Judicial Council, and not the people, has complete control over who becomes a judge in Kansas. A majority of Judicial Counsel members are selected in elections in which only attorneys can vote. The current system thus guarantees lawyers a far greater say than ordinary citizens in Kansas in selecting judges who have great power and control over the lives of regular citizens.

The suit asks the court to put an end to this inequality and give all Kansas voters an equal voice. According to attorney James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the plaintiffs, the Kansas system “gives Kansas attorneys a stranglehold on the judiciary. Lawyers in Kansas have enormous influence over who the state judges are, while the ordinary voter is denied the right to an equal voice.”

The case is Dool, et al. v. Burke, et al., No. 6:10-cv-1286. The complaint and memorandum supporting the motion for a temporary restraining order are available in PDF format online at the James Madison Center’s website, www.jamesmadisoncenter.org.

James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.