ABA does not recommend Kansas' new method of judicial selection
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Posted by: Beth Warrington
Under a recently adopted judicial selection process, Kansas Gov.
Sam Brownback announced that he will evaluate potential nominees without
public disclosure of their names.
The governor defended his
decision by pointing to an allegedly similar practice by the American
Bar Association. The governor observed that "the ABA recommends this
method of selection.” The first statement is misleading, the second
The ABA takes no position on the governor’s decision
regarding disclosure of potential appointees. Although the ABA’s
Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary conducts reviews of
potential nominees confidentially, that function is not analogous to the
The committee provides the president with an
objective, nonpartisan peer evaluation of a potential nominee in
confidence; it plays no role in the selection of candidates or nominees.
ABA emphatically does not recommend Kansas’ new method of judicial
selection for circuit court judges. In fact, it opposes that method,
which eliminates the independent nominating commission and confers
complete control over the judicial selection process on the governor and
We believe this approach invites partisan politics instead of merit-based review of a potential judge’s qualifications.
President, American Bar Association
Note: This first appeared in the July 29 edition of the Kansas City Star's Letters to the Editor.