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We Kansans will be voting on whether to “retain” — or keep — our state court judges. Retention elections are not new in Kansas, but the number of judges up for retention this election — 13 out of 21 — is astoundingly high.
Why should we care? Because retaining these 13 judges will protect our August vote on abortion rights.
In Kansas, the governor appoints our judges to the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Thereafter, we voters periodically get to decide whether to keep each judge who is up for retention. State court judges are up for retention 1) the first general election after being appointed by the governor and 2) every six years after that.
When we vote “yes” to retain a judge, that judge keeps their job. When we vote “no,” that judge loses their job, which creates a vacancy at the court. How is this vacancy filled? See above: The governor appoints the new judge.
If Kansas voters don’t retain our state court judges, the governor — who will be either Laura Kelly or Derek Schmidt — will replace those judges. And if Schmidt is elected, be sure he’ll appoint 13 anti-abortion judges who will uphold draconian abortion restrictions and outright abortion bans.
Vote “yes” to retain all of our judges so there are no judge vacancies for Schmidt to fill if he wins the governor’s race.
— Amii N. Castle (she/her), Lawrence