Process to become a Supreme Court justice
Supreme Court vacancies are filled using a merit-based nomination process that Kansans voted to add to the Kansas Constitution in 1958.
When there is a vacancy on the bench, the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews applications and conducts public interviews of nominees. The commission narrows the nominee pool to three names that it sends to the governor. The governor chooses one nominee to appoint.
Fact Sheet: Filling a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court
A nominee must be:
at least 30 years old; and
a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas and engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years, whether as a lawyer, judge, or full-time teacher at an accredited law school.
The Supreme Court Nominating Commission has nine members. There is one lawyer and one nonlawyer from each of the state’s four congressional districts, plus one lawyer who serves as chairperson. Nonlawyers are appointed by the governor. Lawyers are elected by other lawyers within their congressional districts. The chairperson is elected by lawyers statewide.
Supreme Court Nominating Commission members
Supreme Court Nominating Commission 2023 elections
When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews nominees for justice, they look at the person’s:
Justices must follow the law and not be influenced by politics, special interest groups, public opinion, or their own personal beliefs.
Justices demonstrate their accountability by following a Code of Judicial Conduct that establishes standards of ethical behavior. They also take an oath of office that includes swearing to support, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution and Kansas Constitution.
Search for Rules Related to Judicial Conduct
After a new justice serves one year on the court, he or she must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the justice serves a six-year term.