February 11, 2009
The citizens of Kansas are currently engaged in a debate over their state courts. The state's process for selecting judges has come under scrutiny, with critics arguing that the current judicial selection process is too lawyer-dominated and supporters responding that it is the best process for depoliticizing judicial selection.
As in other states which employ some version of the Missouri Plan, the Kansas debate has focused considerable attention on the role of the commissioners who nominate judges. In an effort to increase dialogue about state court jurisprudence and state judicial selection, the Federalist Society has published this brief study of the historical composition of the Kansas judicial selection commission.
Whether initiated by state legislatures or through litigation, a number of state judicial selection systems based on the Missouri Plan are now the subjects of intense debates, ranging from merely changing the composure of a nominating commission to completely altering the method of judicial selection. It is our hope that this study will contribute to that ongoing dialogue in Kansas and elsewhere.