A recent poll commissioned by Justice at Stake showed that a strong majority of Kansans opposes amending the state Constitution to change the way state Supreme Court justices are chosen. The poll (see Gavel Grab) is getting growing attention as legislators debate scrapping a merit-based selection system.
In the Topeka Capital-Journal, an entire article was devoted to the poll. Sixty-one percent of Kansans, and a majority of each political party, opposed a constitutional amendment when asked the following question:
“Some people have proposed amending the state Constitution to change the way judges are selected here in Kansas. Under the proposal, judges would be chosen by the Governor without first being recommended by a panel, and then confirmed by the state Senate. They would still face periodic yes/no retention elections from the voters. Would you favor or oppose amending the Constitution to switch from merit selection to the proposed new way of selecting judges?”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and allies are pushing to revise the existing merit-based selection process. Brownback and fellow critics are “[f]rustrated by school finance decisions in which they believe the courts have exceeded their authority,” the newspaper reported.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer, a supporter of changing the merit selection system, used Twitter to attack Justice at Stake, saying “George Soros backed ‘Justice At Stake’ attempting to block judicial selection reform in KS.” Kinzer is a Republican. JAS spokeswoman Laurie Kinney noted that JAS gets funding from numerous foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the MacArthur Foundation. (For a full list of Justice at Stake funders, click here.)
Justice at Stake is a bipartisan, nonpartisan partnership of more than 50 organizations working to keep courts fair and impartial. Its ranks include Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and business and trial attorneys. Justice at Stake’s partnership includes a wide array of judicial and legal leaders, business executives and civic groups.