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News & Press: General

ABA does not recommend Kansas' new method of judicial selection

Wednesday, July 31, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Beth Warrington
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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 erroneous.


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 governor’s.


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.


The 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 senate.


We believe this approach invites partisan politics instead of merit-based review of a potential judge’s qualifications.


Laurel Bellows

President, American Bar Association

Washington, D.C.


Note: This first appeared in the July 29 edition of the Kansas City Star's Letters to the Editor.