Media Coverage of Kansas Supreme Court Judge Nominee Standridge and What It Means for Abortion in Kansas

Kansans for Life made state and national news for standing in opposition to Gov. Kelly’s nomination of Justice Melissa Standridge to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Standridge was one of seven Kansas Court of Appeals judges to find a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution in 2016. The case was volleyed between the Kansas appellate court and Supreme Court until April of 2019 when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s 160-year-old constitution protected the right to abortion in Kansas. For more on that ruling, please visit KFL Constitutional Amendment.

The Metro Voice reported the facts on the story and of KFL’s stance on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

“Kansans for Life is disappointed in Gov. Laura Kelly’s appointment of pro-abortion judge Melissa Standridge to the state Supreme Court on Monday. As a Court of Appeals judge, Standridge upheld the district court’s finding of a ‘right to abortion’ in the 1859 state Constitution, thus opening the door to unlimited abortion in Kansas

‘Laura Kelly continues to stack state courts with appointees who will do the abortion industry’s bidding,’ said Jeanne Gawdun, director of government relations. ‘Standridge’s appointment is a setback for the preborn and their mothers. This is just another example of why we need a more transparent and democratic selection process for judges.’

Standridge, who has served on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 2008, will be filling the vacancy left by former Justice Carol Beier, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. This is Kelly’s third appointment to the state’s highest court.

‘To serve on our state’s highest court is the honor of a lifetime — but I don’t view joining the Supreme Court as just a capstone to my career,’ Standridge said. ‘I am keenly aware that my appointment is more than just moving my office from the second floor of the judicial center to the third floor.’

The Leawood resident was chosen by the governor from a pool of three nominees forwarded by a nominating commission. The other two candidates were Kim Cudney, chief judge of the 12th Judicial District, and Kristen Wheeler, who works for federal judge J. Thomas Marten.

Selection of state supreme court justices go through the nominating commission, which forwards three candidates to the governor. But Republican lawmakers have criticized the fact there is no legislative oversight over the process. Kelly, however, said she likes the current process. The majority of current Kansas Supreme Court justices have been appointed by Democratic governors. ‘I think keeping it the way that it is ensures much more in keeping politics out of the process,’ Kelly said.

Standridge will serve on the court for a year before undergoing retention elections in the next general election.

The Wichita Eagle published their spin on our “anti-abortion politics” on Monday. That story was picked up by and included in their politics section on Dec. 3.

“The influential anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposed Standridge’s elevation to the high court because of her vote in an 2016 abortion case. She sided with six other appellate judges in asserting that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

That case ended in a 7-7 tie at the appellate court.

The state Supreme Court ruled last year the right to an abortion is protected by the state Constitution.

That offers a layer of protection for it if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that has protected abortion rights nationally since 1973.

In a written statement, Kansans for Life said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ by Kelly’s choice.

‘Laura Kelly continues to stack state courts with appointees who will do the abortion industry’s bidding,’ said Jeanne Gawdun, KFL’s director of government relations.

KFL also opposed the December 2019 appointment of Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Wilson, who was elevated from chief district court judge in Shawnee County.

Anti-abortion politics were at the forefront of a 2106 effort to unseat four Supreme Court justices, but the effort failed to remove any of the members.” (The year 2106 is stated in the article, instead of 2016.)