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Judge Refuses to Halt Merit-Based Judicial Nominating Process

A federal judge has denied a request to stop the state of Kansas from filling judicial vacancies through a so-called merit-based selection process.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot refused Tuesday to grant a temporary restraining order against a judicial nominating committee charged with selecting finalists to replace former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert E. Davis, the Witchita Eagle reported Tuesday.

Four Kansas voters sued last month to stop the process for filling Davis’ seat, saying the procedure denied them a voice in the selection of a new chief justice.

But Belot said a halt to the process is not in the public interest and would interrupt a procedure that has been in use since 1958 and that has done no irreparable harm. He also said the plaintiffs had not demonstrated they would succeed on the merits of their case at trial.

Davis, who resigned Aug. 3, died the next day.

Under a merit selection system, a judicial nominating committee recommends several candidates to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who must select a new justice from the list of nominees. If the current selection process remains in place, nominations could be sent to the governor by next month.

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