Governor picks appeals court judge, former Kansas City lawyer for Kansas Supreme Court

Kansas capitol
Posted at 2:16 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 15:16:48-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gov. Laura Kelly appointed state Court of Appeals Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Standridge worked in Kansas City as an associate attorney for Shook, Hardy and Bacon before moving on to become chamber counsel to U.S. District Magistrate Judge David Waxse.

She has held her seat on the Court of Appeals since 2008. In her time there, she's authored nearly 1,000 opinions.

Kelly said Standridge's role as a foster and adoptive parent brings a unique perspective to the court.

“There’s no question that Melissa has gathered a wealth of legal expertise that makes her more than prepared to join the Supreme Court," Kelly said in a news release. "But there’s more to her unique career trajectory and life experience that makes her a perfect fit for our state’s highest court."

Standridge said she recognizes the weight of the office.

“To serve on our state’s highest court is the honor of a lifetime – but I don't view joining the Supreme Court as just a capstone to my career,” Standridge said in the release. “The justices of our Supreme Court have difficult jobs. So I am keenly aware that my appointment is more than just moving my office from the second floor of the judicial center to the third floor.

Monday's appointment was made despite the objections of the state’s most influential anti-abortion group.

It is Kelly’s third appointment to the seven-member court in less than two years in office.

Under the state constitution, her choice is not subject to review by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Rather, Standridge will stand for retention in the general election following her appointment.

If voters want to keep her in office, she'll stand for retention every six years following.

Standridge will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Carol Beier.

The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life opposed Standridge because she sided in a 2016 ruling with other judges who said the state constitution protects abortion rights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.