Kansas considers giving governor more say in high court

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Kansas lawmakers are considering giving the governor more authority over who is appointed to the state Supreme Court, which has been under increasing attacks by conservatives who say it is too liberal.

A proposed constitutional amendment to change the system received first-round approval in the House on Wednesday and advances to final action today. It needs approval from two-thirds of House members to advance to the Senate.

With major cases on school funding and abortion restrictions now pending before the high court, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies are seeking to change its makeup. Last year, Brownback openly campaigned against the retention of two state Supreme Court justices.

The state's high court judges are chosen by five attorneys and four representatives selected by the governor. The nonpartisan committee then chooses three finalists, with the governor making the final selection. A proposed constitutional amendment would change the system so that the governor would nominate justices, who would then be approved for the court by a majority of the Senate.

During debate Wednesday, opponents argued the move is drastic. Supporters argued that the current process is undemocratic.


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