Kansas Senate panel unanimously votes to recommend Brownback appellate judge nominee

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TOPEKA, Kansas — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday to recommend Kathryn Gardner's confirmation to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Appointed to the court by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, Gardner's initial confirmation hearing Wednesday was tense. Sen. Jeff King, a Republican from Independence and chairman of the committee, aggressively questioned her qualifications and compared her to Harriet Myers, whose 2005 appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was withdrawn after critics claimed she lacked experience and was too close to President George W. Bush.

Gardner has served as the law clerk for U.S. District Judge Sam Crow since 2000 after spending 12 years as a practicing lawyer in Wichita and two years as an assistant state attorney general.

Committee chairs are not required to vote unless there is a tie, and King chose not to vote on Gardner's confirmation.

Republican Sen. Greg Smith of Overland Park voted to confirm Gardner and said no previous nominees to the court had been vetted as well as her.

Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn said after the vote that she believed Gardner answered committee's questions well, but wished the names of other applicants to the position were made public.

"The point is you just never know who would have been the best candidate because we can never see any of the individuals that applied," McGinn said.

The Senate passed a bill in late February that would make public the names of all applicants to the Court of Appeals. It now moves to the House, where McGinn says she hopes it will pass.

Peter Northcott, chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Sen. Terry Bruce, a Republican from Hutchinson, said the chamber has not yet scheduled Gardner's final confirmation, but the law requires that it will be within 20 days.

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