Bias Allegations By Kansas “Merit” Selection Commissioners

January 25, 2013

Two members of Kansas’s judicial nominating commission have publicly confirmed the worst kept secret among judicial insiders – namely that the “merit” selection process is hopelessly biased against conservative judges and has been hijacked by proponents of a highly liberal, highly activist judiciary.

Commission members Felita Kahrs and Bob Hayworth, both non-lawyers, testified before the Kansas House Judiciary Committee that conservative judicial candidates were treated with “disdain” by the commission and that discussions became “extremely heated and sometimes even hostile” when considering conservative candidates.

Kahrs and Hayworth also testified that the assessment of candidates was not based on merit, but on “political philosophy, gender, locale, American Bar Association engagement, and age.”  Hayworth, the COO of an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, said the process was so biased that his company would face legal liability if they followed it in their hiring policies.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently made reforming the state’s judicial selection process a key initiative in his state-of-the-state address.  Brownback argued that the state’s broken “merit” selection process “allows a special interest group to control the process of choosing who will be our appellate judges.”  Brownback is pushing for a constitutional amendment to replace the current bar-controlled system with either democratic judicial elections or a version of the federal system.

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