This will be the third supreme court justice to retire under the Kelly Administration. Gov. Kelly has replaced Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justice Lee Johnson. Kelly appointed Justice Evelyn Wilson and Justice K.J. Wall, respectively. This appointment will be decided by the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission.
The Commission was established in 1958 when Kansas voters supported an amendment to the state's constitution. Whenever a vacancy occurs on the Court, the commission is tasked with presenting the governor with a slate of three qualified candidates. The governor interviews the candidates and makes the appointment. This process, known as merit selection, is used by Kansas and 21 other states, along with the District of Columbia, for selecting all members of their highest court.
In the coming month, Gov. Kelly will also nominate two lawyers for the Kansas Court of Appeals. Those positions became available when Judge Steve Leben and Judge Joseph Pierron announced their retirements earlier in the spring. In early June, the Kansas Senate rejected the Governor’s first nominee, Carl Folsom; that action will restart the clock for the appointment. The second appointment was stalled due to COVID-19 concerns, but we can expect those appointments to take place this fall as well.