A Kansas House committee has endorsed a proposed change in the state constitution to give the governor and legislators more power over appellate court appointments.
The measure advanced Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee would allow governors to name whomever they want to fill vacancies on the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The appointments would require Senate confirmation.
Meanwhile, Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican lawmakers were dealt a setback this week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined their plea to hear a challenge to Kansas' version of the Missouri Plan, which uses a nine-member judicial nominating commission to send the governor a slate of candidates for openings on the bench. The high court denied pleadings to take up the case. Brownback and legislative leaders had filed a friend-of-the-court brief.
That means the only way to change the process is to amend the state's constitution.
The latest measure to do so would scrap the statewide, attorney-led commission that screens applicants for the appellate courts and names three finalists for the governor. The current selection system has no role for lawmakers.
The Judiciary Committee's voice vote in favor of the measure sent it to the full House for debate.
Supporters said the measure would make judicial selection more open. Critics said the change would make the courts less independent.