TOPEKA - Hell hath no fury like a lawyer scorned, or so it seems in Kansas, where the Wall Street Journal reports Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is taking abuse for having the temerity to select a judicial nominee for a vacancy on the state's Court of Appeals.
According to the state bar association and its allies at the George Soros-funded Justice at Stake, Mr. Brownback should have to broadcast his shortlist of judicial nominees before he makes a selection. President Obama, check your iPhone.
The groups are in battle stance because they fear Kansas's partial abandonment in March of the so-called Missouri Plan for selecting judges could have a domino effect in other states. The plan, which uses a commission comprised mostly of lawyers to handpick judicial nominees, has been falling out of favor in many states that have seen the supposedly non-partisan process push their courts to the left.
Opponents are also hoping the fight will have a chilling effect on efforts to get rid of the Missouri Plan for judges on the state Supreme Court next year. Changing the selection method there will require a two-thirds majority in both chambers to get an amendment on the ballot. And the Justice at Stake contingent is hoping to make lawmakers think twice.
The new Kansas selection process couldn't be less radical, mirroring the federal process in which the nominee is chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate. But that hasn't stopped Kansas Democrats from railing against the "secretive" process by which Mr. Brownback narrows his list and selects a nominee.
The state Legislature will hold a special session on Sept. 3, and state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat, says it's an "orchestrated decoy" to get Mr. Brownback's "secret appointee to the Court of Appeals as fast and with as little public scrutiny as possible." The dust-up over the special session is mostly for show, since the eventual nominee would have the same confirmation odds in a special session.
The American Bar Association has also parachuted in to oppose the state's move to the federal model. The ABA's position is especially rich since the organization is responsible for "secretly" vetting the president's judicial nominees. Its own manual on the federal judiciary notes that it maintains confidentiality because "prospective nominees not ultimately nominated should be spared of any embarrassment that might result from disclosure of the evaluation."