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TOPEKA—The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will meet by videoconference at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, to discuss procedures in advance of seeking nominations for a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court created by the September 18 retirement of Justice Carol Beier.

The meeting will be broadcast live on the Kansas judicial branch YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/2Z4X62T.

Nominating commission

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.

Two new members have been named to the commission. Lawyers in the 3rd Congressional District elected Katie McClaflin of Overland Park. Governor Laura Kelly appointed Carol Marinovich of Kansas City, Kan.

Merit-based selection process

Justices are appointed to the Supreme Court through a merit-based nomination process Kansas voters added to our state Constitution in 1958. The process involves the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which reviews nominees, and the governor, who makes the appointments.  

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.

Eligibility requirements

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.

Selection criteria

When the Supreme Court Nominating Commission reviews nominees for justice, they look at the person’s:

  • legal and judicial experience;

  • educational background;

  • character and ethics;

  • temperament;

  • service to the community;

  • impartiality; and

  • respect of colleagues.

Judicial conduct

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.

Retention elections

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.

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