Former Senate President "concerned" by judicial vote

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A former Kansas Senate President is splitting with other Republicans, when it comes to a November vote on retaining state Supreme Court justices.

Steve Morris told KAKE's This Week in Kansas Sunday the campaign to vote down four justices should "concern" voters. "I think this is probably the most important issue that we've had in a long time," Morris said. "I don't know of any other state that's had a governor who's had total control of all three branches of government. And that's what this governor is trying to do."

Morris quoted from Gov. Sam Brownback, during a meeting with Senate leaders in 2012. "I don't know why you're not with us. We need to have judges that would do what we want." Morris called that "a telling statement."

Morris said the campaigning may be motivated by more than how the court handled sentencing in the Carr Brothers murder cases. He indicated abortion rulings and the school funding controversy also could be factors.

Voters will face up-or-down votes in November on keeping five Supreme Court justices. Opponents of recent rulings have aimed their criticism at four of them: Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Marla Luckert and Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. Brownback appointee Caleb Stegall also will be on the ballot.

Morris left the legislature in 2013, after serving 20 years in the State Senate. He served as Senate President from 2005 to 2013, but was unseated in the 2012 Republican primary.