Butler County Times Gazette
  • Keep selecting judges based on merit

  • Today, finding the most-qualified candidate for any job can be a challenge.
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  • Dear Editor:
    Today, finding the most-qualified candidate for any job can be a challenge. Imagine trying to find three for the same job! Luckily, in Kansas we have help when searching for qualified judges. A group of dedicated individuals sift through stacks of applications, review resumes, conduct interviews and check references to find the most-qualified individuals for our Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
    The members of a nonpartisan, nine-person nominating commission evaluate the qualifications, not the politics or the fundraising, of all the applicants for each vacancy on our appellate courts. The commission's only responsibility is to find the three best people for the job and forward their names to the governor for his or her consideration, nothing more. Merit selection, used in 23 other states, has served Kansas well for more than 50 years.
    Oddly, the Kansas Legislature is trying to do away with the current merit-based judicial selection process and replace it with a federal model of selection that would interject political gamesmanship and favoritism into our judiciary. Under this system (Senate bill SCR 1601 and SB 8, and House bill HCR5002) the governor could appoint anyone he or she likes to any vacancy on either appellate court, and would only need approval from the senate.
    Are Kansans prepared to forgo their values for those of the federal government?
    Kansas citizens have already answered this very question. The process of merit selection was enacted by Kansas voters as a constitutional amendment in 1958. And just last year, as in nearly every retention election before, Kansans reaffirmed the quality of our judiciary when they voted by an overwhelming margin to retain every Kansas Court of Appeals judge on the ballot.
    It sure seems like the legislature is trying to manufacture a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.
    The undersigned attorneys have over 180 years' experience in Butler County and have very diverse political views.
    However, we all agree that selecting appellate judges based on merit rather than political favors is the proper choice for Kansas.
     
    Sincerely,
    - James L. Hargrove, also signed by David All, Gail Jensen, Richard King, Norman Manley and Gene White
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