Senate President Susan Wagle denounced Monday the Democratic governor's pick for the Kansas Court of Appeals by highlighting the nominee's politically charged social media posts on gun violence and abortion, as well as repeated criticism of President Donald Trump.
Wagle, a Republican, said Twitter posts by District Judge Jeffry Jack, the majority of which touched on political issues and personalities, made him unsuitable for the appellate bench. He has no chance of being confirmed by a Senate composed of 28 Republicans, 11 Democrats and one independent, she said.
The Senate president urged Gov. Laura Kelly to withdraw the nomination. If the governor persisted, Wagle said, the nomination process would proceed despite a belief "he'll never win confirmation."
"Americans are very upset with activist political judges," Wagle said. "His long history of promoting gun control, pro-abortion rhetoric, constant criticism of President Trump and partisan politics should disqualify him for a position on one of our state’s highest courts."
In one Twitter post from 2017, Jack insulted Wagle because she harbored interest in higher office, declaring on Twitter: "Susan Wagle for governor or Congress. Failing upward?" He also blasted the 2012 income tax program adopted by Republicans and implemented in 2012 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback. He also referred to Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, as a "POS."
The office of the governor had no immediate comment about Wagle's recommendation to remove Jack from consideration.
Kelly nominated the District Court judge Friday to fill a slot on the Court of Appeals. During a news conference in the Capitol to introduce Jack, the governor said she didn't discuss with him hot-button issues, including abortion, that often sway senators considering confirmation of judicial nominees.
Kelly said the state's judges must ensure every Kansan who encountered the judicial system was treated fairly under the law. She said that required "integrity, impartiality and a sense of how our courts impact the lives of Kansans every day," noting Jack would bring those qualifies to the Court of Appeals.
Jack, who has served as a district court judge in Labette County since 2005, went through the standard background check by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Kansas law school. He has worked in private practice as an attorney and served in the Kansas House.
Jack's habit of posting to Twitter appeared to end in late 2017, or his more recent comments to the social media platform were deleted. What remained was criticism of politicians whom Jack blamed for failing to responsibly address gun violence in America, debate legislation to limit abortion, determine the fate of children of illegal immigrants and accept protests by professional athletes regarding racial strife.
Jack expressed a view that U.S. police departments needed to do a better job "cleaning themselves up — better training, punishing mistakes — or they will lose all trust."
He posted a fictitious summary of what Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore could have said after pulling a handgun during a campaign rally.
"Moore, confused by his own bullshit, holds microphone in the air and puts gun to his mouth while yelling, 'Yeehaw,' " Jack posted.
Jack said on Twitter he was fond of Democrats Barack Obama and Lyndon Johnson, but shared frustration with Trump's response to the earthquake in Puerto Rico and repeatedly questioned the GOP president's ability to lead the nation.
"Americans should never condone a POTUS that dodged the draft and condones racism, sexism and mocks those with disabilities," Jack said in a Twitter comment.
Wagle, who has raised the possibility of running for U.S. Senate in 2020, endorsed GOP nominee Kris Kobach in the November gubernatorial race won by Kelly. During the campaign's final days, Trump visited Topeka for a rally to endorse Kobach.
"I'm absolutely surprised that she even nominated the gentleman," Wagle said. "I'm very upset that clearly he has a political bias, and that should have been vetted before he was nominated."