The merit system of judicial selection in Kansas has sprung a leak, finds the United States Supreme Court.
One of the purported benefits of the merit system of judicial selection in Kansas is that it produces quality jurists who rule on the law, not on their personal beliefs or ideologies.
But a recent case shows otherwise. Following, a selection of dialog between Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:1
JUSTICE SCALIA: Did the Kansas Supreme Court read these cases?
MR. SCHMIDT: Perhaps I ought not answer that, Justice Scalia, but —
JUSTICE SCALIA: How can you explain it if — if indeed our prior cases are so clear on the point?
MR. SCHMIDT: Justice Scalia, I, of course, don’t —
JUSTICE SCALIA: They don’t like the death penalty.
Here, in one exchange, Scalia exposes the legal incompetence of the Kansas Supreme Court because they rule based on their policy preferences, not the law. “Did the Kansas Supreme Court read these cases?” That’s a question a law school professor asks a lazy student. It shouldn’t need to be asked of justices on the highest court in Kansas.
But the United States Supreme Court found it necessary to ask if Kansas judges were reading their cases. This is precisely what the merit system is supposed to avoid.
For more on this see this video from Joseph Ashby.
- Oral arguments in Kansas v. Gleason and Kansas v. Carr, October 7, 2015. http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2015/14-452_b18j.pdf. ↩