Dec 17 2012
According to an op-ed published in the Lawrence Journal-World, Lawton R. Nuss, Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, the competition inherent in a merit selection system produces the kind of “winners” that Americans love.
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Kansas currently selects judges for the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals through a merit selection process where a nine member nominating commission provides the governor with a short list of names from which he or she must appoint a judge. The judge will then stand for periodic retention elections. Kansas legislators and lawyers are currently debating the best composition of the nominating commission, which is currently made up of five lawyers elected by the bar association with the remaining four members appointed by the governor.
In the op-ed, Justice Nuss details his lengthy road to becoming a Supreme Court justice. “I tried to improve my competitiveness,” Justice Nuss said. “To hone my writing and analytical skills, I researched and wrote several legal articles for publication and volunteered to author appellate briefs for other lawyers. To sharpen my understanding of the law’s application to the real world, I sought more cases to try to Kansas juries. To achieve a broader perspective of the law,
I expanded my law practice to include additional legal fields.”
Notably, neither political connections nor fundraising prowess were cited as reasons for Justice Nuss’s nomination to the Kansas Supreme Court. Instead, the nominating commission and the governor focused solely on the skills that made him qualified to be a fair and impartial arbiter of justice. This is the power of a merit selection system. It is time for Pennsylvanians to take politics out of the courts in order to ensure that only the most qualified, fair and impartial judges preside over cases.