Stegall – Caleb Stegall may well turn out to be a fine appellate judge for Kansas. He is a smart and energetic lawyer, and will go into his Senate confirmation hearing with solid recommendations from the state’s legal establishment. But in nominating Stegall, his general counsel, to the state Court of Appeals, Gov. Sam Brownback advanced suspicions that judicial selection in Kansas has become based less on merit and more on political affiliations. The Kansas Senate will make a show of due diligence with a confirmation hearing for Stegall. It will be interesting but not suspenseful. Short of a bombshell revelation, Kansas conservatives have their handpicked judge. Kansas is worse off for the process.
The proof-of-citizenship requirement in Kansas followed a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, another ultraconservative strategy to discourage voting by sidelining those who may not have appropriate photo ID – the poor, elderly and students, for example – and who tend to favor Democrats on the ballot. As if making it more difficult to vote isn’t troubling enough, the thousands of prospective voters on the new “suspense” list easily could be the difference in tight statewide races – sad proof that the strategy to suppress future votes is gaining momentum in Kansas.