Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kansas ⁠— Lawmakers are fast-tracking a push to amend the state constitution and undo a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said women have the right to abortion.

The goal, with voters’ approval in August, is to add a line to the state bill of rights saying abortion isn’t constitutionally protected ⁠— and that legislators can regulate abortions, including when a pregnancy results from rape or incest or threatens a woman’s life.

The proposal already is awaiting floor votes in both chambers, just over a week after the 2020 session began. 

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TOPEKA -- Top Kansas Republicans want to head off any push for an abortion ban in the state even as they make overturning a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that protects abortion rights a top priority.

The GOP-controlled Legislature expects to consider a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution during the annual 90-day lawmaking session that opened this week. It's a response to the state high court's ruling in April that the state's Bill of Rights makes access to abortion a fundamental right.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service/File Photo

When he was a high school senior in Salina, Lawton Nuss said he had no idea what he wanted to do with his future.

"My government teacher, who had also been the assistant debate coach that year, said he thought that I might be good at the law because it called for reading a lot of material and analyzing it and then writing it, and then also conveying it and orally making arguments," Nuss recalled.

"And I thought, 'Well, gee, I had never thought about that.'"

TOPEKA, Kansas — A Shawnee County district judge was named Monday to one of the vacancies on the Kansas Supreme Court.

Though the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group opposed Shawnee County District Court Judge Evelyn Wilson, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly Chose Wilson from among the three candidates recommended by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. It’s a choice that could fuel efforts to change how Kansas’ Supreme Court justices get their seats.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service/File photo

A prosecutor says a commission that screens applicants for the Kansas Supreme Court did not violate the state's open meetings law in choosing three finalists for a vacancy.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Thursday that the nominating commission took a final vote during a public meeting in October with a unanimous show of hands. He says other votes by paper ballot to narrow a list of 19 candidates to three for Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to consider were not binding actions.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Abortion opponents appear divided on the best strategy to overcome the Kansas Supreme Court's ruling that the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure.

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Donaldo Morales caught a break when federal prosecutors declined to charge him after he was arrested for using a fake Social Security card so he could work at a Kansas restaurant.

But the break was short-lived. Kansas authorities stepped in and obtained a state conviction that could lead to Morales's deportation.

A state appellate court overturned the conviction, but Kansas appealed. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether states can prosecute immigrants like Morales who use other people's Social Security numbers to get a job.

Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers spent years imposing ever tougher restrictions on abortion and then saw the state Supreme Court declare that women hold a right to the procedure.

Now Republicans and abortion opponents appear determined to amend the Kansas Constitution to reverse that ruling.

TOPEKA― Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss announced Friday he’ll retire in mid-December after serving on the state’s highest court since 2002, when Republican Gov. Bill Graves tapped him for the role.

That makes the second retirement announcement from the court in less than a month. Justice Lee Johnson will retire in September. He was appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007.

This spring, abortion rights supporters scored a massive legal victory: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to abortion under the state constitution.

That means even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, lawmakers won’t be able to ban abortion in Kansas unless voters amend the state constitution.

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