First new law of 2013 bad for Kansas courts

How regrettable that the first bill to become law this year – House Bill 2019, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed Wednesday – was one that needlessly politicizes a merit-selection process for the Court of Appeals that has served Kansas well for 36 years. Now, Kansas reportedly is unique in the nation for selecting Court of Appeals judges one way and Supreme Court justices another way. Because the new system lets the governor pick anyone he wants but requires that his choices be confirmed by the Senate, which only works during the spring, the change could result in long-vacant seats on the court. Never mind that January poll showing 61 percent of Kansas voters opposed changing how appellate judges are selected. And so much for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2012 opinion that the nonpartisan nominating commission long used for Kansas’ appellate courts “is designed to ensure the conduct of the executive branch does not threaten the integrity of the judicial branch.”