Court nomination process under review

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November 7, 2019 - 10:19 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Republican legislator’s complaint has launched an investigation into whether the commission that screens Kansas Supreme Court applicants violated the state’s open meetings law in picking three finalists for Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to consider in filling a vacancy.

The complaint from Senate President Susan Wagle is likely to intensify efforts by fellow conservatives to give legislators the power to block a governor’s appointments to the state’s highest court, something they cannot do now. Republicans have had a renewed interest in such a measure since a Supreme Court decision in April protecting abortion rights.

The commission named the finalists for Kelly in mid-October, and they include a Topeka-area trial judge opposed by Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group. The lawyer-led nominating commission voted on candidates in a public meeting but used paper ballots so that how each member voted wasn’t disclosed during the meeting.

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