Toby Crouse – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas

Toby Crouse currently serves as Kansas Solicitor General, in charge of defending Kansas’ laws and regulations in state and federal court.  His experience in this role prepares him well for a career as a federal judge.

Background

Toby Crouse received his Bachelor of Arts from Kansas State University and then his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law.  Crouse then clerked on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas for Judge Monti Belot and then on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for Judge Mary Beck Briscoe.

After his clerkships, Crouse joined the firm of Foulston Siefkin in their Overland Park office.[1]  In 2018, Crouse was tapped to replace Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister (who became U.S. Attorney).[2]  Crouse currently serves in that capacity.

History of the Seat

Crouse has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  This vacancy opened when Judge Carlos Murguia resigned on April 1, 2020.  Murguia’s resignation was prompted by his reprimand from the Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that he had sexually harassed court employees, among committing other acts of misconduct.[3]

Legal Experience

Crouse has extensive experience in litigation, both in his time at Foulston Siefkin and his time litigating as Kansas Solicitor General.

Foulston Siefkin

As an attorney at Foulston Siefkin, Crouse worked primarily in civil litigation, frequently defending municipalities and employers against civil rights and discrimination allegations.  In one case, Crouse represented the Geary County Sheriff’s Department against allegations of harassment of discrimination made by former employees.[4]  The suit ended in a settlement of the plaintiffs’ claiims.[5]  In another case, Crouse successfully pushed for the dismissal of a suit filed by a Sheriff fired for refusing to end the investigation into a man facing sex crime charges.[6]

Notably, Crouse was hired by the Republican legislature to gather evidence and present evidence before the Kansas Supreme Court in a lawsuit alleging disproportionate allocation of school funding.[7]  The suit had threatened to upend Kansas’ system for school funding after a 2010 ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court.[8]

Kansas Solicitor General

Since 2018, Crouse has served as Solicitor General for Kansas, where he has represented the State before state and federal courts.  Notably, Crouse argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2019-20 calendar, winning both.  In Kansas v. Glover, Crouse won a 8-1 victory in persuading the Court that it was reasonable for officers to assume that the owner of a vehicle was also the driver for Fourth Amendment purposes.[9]  In Kahler v. Kansas, Crouse similarly got a 6-3 majority to agree with his position that Kansas can abolish the insanity test in criminal prosecutions without violating the Constitution.[10]

In other cases, Crouse has defended Kansas’ school funding system before the Kansas Supreme Court,[11] and unsuccessfully argued that Kansas’ voting law, which requires proof of citizenship, is not preempted by federal regulations.[12] 

Overall Assessment

As an established attorney with extensive experience litigating in both state and federal court, Crouse certainly has the base level of experience to be a federal judge.  While he may face some opposition for his embrace of conservative legal positions as Solicitor General, such objections are unlikely to derail Crouse’s nomination.


[1] Press Release, Office of the Kansas Attorney General, AG Derek Schmidt Names Toby Crouse to Serve as Kansas Solicitor General (Jan. 26, 2018) (on file at https://ag.ks.gov/media-center/news-releases/2018/01/26/ag-derek-schmidt-names-toby-crouse-to-serve-as-kansas-solicitor-general).

[2] See id.

[3] Arianne De Vogue and Caroline Kelly, Kansas Federal Judge Resigns After Sexual Misconduct Allegations, CNN.com, Feb. 18, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/18/politics/kansas-federal-judge-murguia-resigns-sexual-misconduct/index.html.

[4] See Judge Grants Extension in Discrimination Case Against GESO, Junction City Daily Union, Sept. 29, 2015.

[5] See Resolution Reached in Discrimination Lawsuit, Junction City Daily Union, Feb. 16, 2016.

[6] See Lawsuit Alleging Sheriff Wrongfully Fired Detective Tossed, A.P. State & Local, Apr. 6, 2017.

[7] Top Kansas Lawmakers Hire Lawyer For School Funding Lawsuit, A.P. State & Local, Mar. 10, 2016.

[8] John Hanna, Kansas School Aid Debate Raises Tough Issues for Lawmakers, A.P. State & Local, Mar. 21, 2016.

[9] Kansas v. Glover, 589 U.S. __ (2020).

[10] Kahler v. Kansas, 589 U.S. __ (2020).

[11] John Hanna, Kansas Justices Express Doubt About School Funding Hike, A.P., May 22, 2018

[12] See also Lindsay Whitehurst, Kansas Hopes to Resurrect Proof-of-Citizenship Voting Law, A.P., Mar. 18, 2019.

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