KU professor Stephen Ware: “This violates basic equality among citizens, the principle of one-person, one-vote. The current system elevates one small group and treats everyone else like second-class citizens.”
Kansas is the only state in the union that grants lawyers a majority control of the judicial selection process. I can’t imagine how it’s constitutional. 10,000 lawyers control 2.8 million Kansans. In short, it doesn’t matter who is governor, or who is in the legislature: If all five lawyers agree on a set of nominees (on a committee of nine), the governor is required to choose among those three nominees.
From the liberal legal establishment, there is talk of “merit” and of “removing politics from the system” and of “competency.” But, of course, there is absolutely no proof that this process is any less political, or that the judges chosen are any more competent. The “politics” is merely removed from the public’s eye, to behind closed doors. The establishment will argue about the “ugly confirmation process in Washington,” where there are public hearings and Senate confirmation. Absurd – and who was it, exactly, who started the “borking” of qualified nominees — the left or the right? The left wants to make the process ugly, and upon succeeding, the left wants to argue that the process should be all the less accountable to Americans, in the name of making it prettier. How considerate — no, socially conservative — of the left, to “protect” the public from the ugliness of human nature, and the not-nice things that are said at public hearings.
In December at RedState, I posted a radio interview between KRMR 105.7 FM host Paul Ibbetson and Stephen Ware, University of Kansas law professor. I also posted an op-ed from Ware in the Lawrence Journal-World, which opposes democracy and favors elitist oligarchy.
Ware is more than a reasonable person in the op-ed, showing respect to lawyers while stating the obvious fact that there is nothing inherent in being a “lawyer” that makes a person more intelligent, or more representative of an average American.
Kansas lawyers tend to be fine people but they’re not superheroes. They don’t deserve more power than lawyers have in any of the other 49 states. In a democracy, a lawyer’s vote should not be worth more than any other resident’s vote.
So the problem is not that Kansas has a nominating commission but how that commission is selected. As Washburn law professor Jeffrey Jackson wrote, democratic legitimacy “would appear to favor a reduction in the influence of the state bar and its members over the nominating commission because they do not fit within the democratic process. Rather, the more desirable system from a legitimacy standpoint would have a greater number of the commission’s members selected through means more consistent with the concept of representative government.”
Bar groups in Kansas claim that this violation of our democratic principles is the only way to get competent judges. But the bar provides no evidence that judges selected in lawyer-favoring systems are better than judges selected in the more open and democratic appointment systems used by a dozen other states.
Talented Wichita blogger Bob Weeks posted the video of a recent television interview on the public affairs program “This Week in Kansas,” broadcast on Wichita’s ABC affiliate. The video is below, but you can also see the video on Bob Weeks’ Web site Voice for Liberty.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr, mrcTV.org, YouTube, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, an at-large trustee at Johnson County Community College, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party, a Republican precinct committeeman in Johnson County, and was founder of the modern Overland Park Republican Party. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Kansas’ largest pro-life group, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.