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State of Kansas

History of Reform Efforts: Kansas

Unsuccessful Reform Efforts

Two bills were introduced that would have altered the way judges are selected. HCR 5012 called for nonpartisan election of supreme court justices, and SCR 1606 required confirmation of supreme court nominations.

A proposed constitutional amendment calling for senate confirmation of supreme court nominees fell five votes shy of the two-thirds approval required.

A bill that would have required the chief judge within a judicial district to be elected by the district judges instead of appointed by the supreme court was rejected by the senate 19-21.


There have not been any significant statewide reform efforts since 1972. Various house and senate bills have been introduced seeking repeal or modification of the merit selection system, but these bills have died in committee. There have also been efforts in individual counties to move back to an elective system. For example, Wyandotte County and Reno County adopted merit selection in 1974 but returned to partisan elections in 1980 and 1984, respectively. Shawnee County adopted merit selection in 1974; in 1984 and 2000, ballot initiatives calling for partisan elections failed. In 2008 and 2010, ballot initiatives calling for a return to partisan elections were rejected by voters in Johnson County, and in Atchison and Leavenworth Counties.