TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Senate has denied the governor’s choice to fill an opening on the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Senators voted 18-17 in favor of Carl Folsom, a lawyer from Topeka, but 21 votes are required to put him on the bench.
“Why they did this, I don’t know, sounds like politics to me,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “When you’ve got a man as qualified as this, and as good a person as this, to let him become the collateral damage in your political games is absolutely wrong.”
Kelly nominated Folsom one week ago. Lawmakers asked him questions in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Many senators raised concerns about his work as a public defender as well as his views on judicial powers and the constitution.
“Too many unanswered questions for this very short time span that we have had to vet this nominee,” Louisburg Senator Molly Baumgardner said. “Questions that will not be answered, but should be answered for someone that will have this level, this responsibility, to serve the blindfolded lady of justice.”
Baumgardner said Folsom wasn’t qualified to be on the second highest court in Kansas.
“I do believe this nominee would be better served, maybe in five years when that breadth of experience can be brought to this body in a recommendation, but the question is, is he ready here and now, and my sense is, now is not his time,” Baumgardner said.
Galena Senator Richard Hilderbrand said Folsom’s answers about the constitution versus court precedent concerned him. He also shared that he believes Folsom thinks courts can have the authority to make laws.
Hilderbrand said he is looking for a different type of nominee.
“Someone that knows what the constitution says and follows the constitution, and the constitution is the supreme law of the land, and I’m okay with it,” Hilderbrand said.
The 17 senators that voted against Folsom were all Republicans.
“The partisanship being inserted into this process is just wrong, and it breaks with longstanding Kansas tradition of keeping politics out of the courts,:”
This is the second time the Senate has denied a nominee from Kelly for the Court of Appeals. Jeffry Jack was rejected in May of last year.
The governor will now have to pick a new nominee.