TOPEKA, Kan. — The fight over abortion rights in Kansas may not be over.
State supreme court elections could be the next abortion battleground, as six of the Kansas Supreme Court justices are standing for retention this year.
In November, Kansas voters will decide which justices in the state’s highest court will keep their seats.
Usually, voters have retained justices’ spots on the bench, but this year, abortion rights could take center stage.
“It is possible that if a number of Kansas Supreme Court justices were not retained in November, then they would have to be replaced, and that new Supreme Court could rule differently on abortion,” political analyst Bob Beatty said.
In Kansas, supreme court justices are selected through a state Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which selects three nominees out of dozens of applicants.
If some justices are voted out, the state’s next governor will have a final say on who fills the open slots.
Earlier this month, questions surrounding abortion and supreme court justice retention came up during the first gubernatorial debate of the election season.
In August, almost 60% of Kansas voters rejected an amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution.
Democratic incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly said that she’s siding with the majority of Kansas voters, who voted to uphold abortion rights.
“They don’t want that government overreach into people’s personal lives,” Kelly quipped during a round of sparring with Republican opponent Derek Schmidt.
Schmidt, however, said the “discussion” on abortion is not over.
While Kelly said she plans to retain the current justices, Schmidt said he has other plans.
“I plan to vote to retain some and not to retain others, and that’s all I have to say on that subject. Every Kansan can make their decision,” he said.
Republicans in the Legislature have also challenged Supreme Court justice selection in the past.
Earlier this year, Senate GOP members introduced two amendments that would change the way supreme court justices are elected in the state.
One amendment would have allowed voters to elect candidates directly, and the other amendment would have allowed the Governor to choose. Neither made it out of the Legislature this year.