Governor picks appeals court judge for Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan.

Gov. Laura Kelly appointed on Monday state Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court, despite the objections of the state’s most influential anti-abortion group.

“As governor, the process of appointing justices to the Kansas Supreme Court is one I take very seriously,” Kelly said in a news release. “Not only must justices have knowledge of the law, but also a complex and nuanced understanding of the world and the people the law is intended to govern.”

It is Kelly’s third appointment to the seven-member court in less than two years in office. Under the state constitution, her choice is not subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature, a sore point for some conservative lawmakers.

Standridge will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Carol Beier.

The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposed Standridge because she sided in a 2016 ruling with other judges who said the state constitution 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.