High Plains Public Radio

Lawton Nuss

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House Wednesday advanced a bill changing the way state Supreme Court justices are selected. However, the measure came up short of the 2/3rds majority it would ultimately need to pass during a final vote Thursday.

Critics of the current system say it isn’t democratic enough, because the nominees for the court are screened and selected by a commission. Republican Representative James Todd is one of the supporters of changing the system.

cjonline.com

In the current Kansas political climate, it’s tough to be the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

How does one stay motivated when the judicial branch seems at odds with the legislative branch over school funding, selection of local chief judges, and the  division's budget is at risk if the selection law is struck down?  Add to that the judicial branch, comprised of 1,800 people, hasn't seen a raise in seven years.

kscourts.org

Many Kansans may not know the faces that sit upon the bench of the Kansas Supreme Court.  HPPR's Cindee Talley had the pleasure of speaking with Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss.

Nuss is a fourth generation Kansan from Salina. As a senior in high school he never dreamed of landing a seat in Supreme Court. After graduation, Nuss served four years in the United States’ Marine Corp. After discharge he continued his education in law school at the University of Kansas and graduated in May 1982.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is defending the state’s system for selecting Supreme Court justices.

Governor Sam Brownback last week said the system should be changed to be, as he called it, more “democratic.” His proposals would allow the governor to pick nominees or have voters directly elect justices.

John Milburn / Associated Press

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss seemed to respond to Gov. Sam Brownback’s remarks pointed at the Supreme Court in his State of the Judiciary address reported Bryan Lowry for the Wichita Eagle.