Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, has sound reasons for objecting to the new method of selecting judges for the Kansas Court of Appeals, which threatens the quality, nonpartisanship and independence of the court. But Hensley is off base in seeing a conspiracy in the four-month delay in swearing in Caleb Stegall, whose nomination was confirmed by the Kansas Senate early this month. If Hensley were right about the timing being designed by Gov. Sam Brownback to spare Stegall a November 2014 retention vote, that would mean court officials including Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, as well as Brownback’s office, have lied about the delay being necessary for budgetary and remodeling reasons. Plus, 53 years of judicial-retention elections for members of Kansas’ appellate courts suggest Stegall need not worry about being thrown off the bench by voters, whenever his name first appears on the ballot.
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