Vol. 20, No. 42 A Newspaper of General Circulation October 20, 2020
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3 finalists named for Kansas Supreme Court
Gov. Laura Kelly is set to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court, and the state’s most influential anti-abortion group is publicly opposing one of the candidates.  
The Democratic governor has until Dec. 5 to choose one of the three finalists named by the state’s nominating commission earlier this month. They are state Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge, Washington County District Judge Kim Cudney and Kristen Wheeler, a Wichita attorney who is a clerk for a federal judge.  
It will be Kelly’s third appointment to the seven-member court in less than two years in office, and under the state constitution, her choice is not subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature – a sore point for many lawmakers, particularly conservatives. Governors have had to win Senate confirmation since 2013 for their nominees to the state’s second-highest court, the Court of Appeals.  
The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life is opposing Standridge because she sided in a 2016 ruling with other judges who said the state constitution – adopted in 1859 – protects abortion rights. The appeals court split 7-7 on the case, and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights.  
Standridge declined to respond to Kansans for Life’s criticism of her as pro-abortion. She has served on the Court of Appeals since 2008 and was an appointee of then-Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.  
Justices stand for an up or down vote every six years to determine whether they stay on the court, and Kansans for Life opposed Beier, another Sebelius appointee, because of her position in abortion cases. The group also opposed Kelly’s first appointee last year, Justice Evelyn Wilson.  
Like Sebelius, Kelly is a strong supporter of abortion access, despite the fact that both say they are Catholic. The Catholic Church considers support for abortion to be a mortal sin, and the archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas ultimately forbade Sebelius form receiving Communion.  
Cudney has served as the chief judge since 2006 in a six-county north-central Kansas judicial district that borders Nebraska, overseeing six magistrates. Stout cited that experience as making her qualified for the state’s highest court.  
Wheeler is a Wichita lawyer who’s practiced there since 2006. She’s currently serving as a law clerk for Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Marten, and her father is the chief judge for Chase and Lyon counties in eastern Kansas. –Information from AP  
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