Press Release from State Senator Mae Beavers, Jan. 15, 2011:
NASHVILLE — State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), has filed a resolution in the State Senate calling for an elected State Attorney General (AG). Beavers said the change in membership of the legislature gives the measure an excellent chance for passage this year.
Beavers passed the measure (SJR 698) through the Senate last year. The resolution, however, was not approved by the House of Representatives.
“Tennessee is the only state in the nation that allows the State Supreme Court to select the attorney general,” said Senator Beavers, who is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “Forty-three states already select their attorney generals through popular election and it is time for this General Assembly to also show their confidence in the collective wisdom of the people of Tennessee. I am very encouraged that the recent change in membership of the General Assembly will give this resolution an excellent chance for passage.”
In six other states, the Attorney General is selected by either the popularly elected Governor or the popularly elected state legislature. Beavers said that when Tennessee’s Constitution was written calling for nomination by the Supreme Court Justices, the court was popularly elected.
“Tennessee is the only state in the nation in which the people have neither a direct nor indirect voice in the selection of their Attorney General,” Beavers added.
The resolution offered by Beavers would amend the state’s Constitution to allow a popular election every four years. The amendment process would require approval by both the 107th General Assembly currently in session, and the 108th, which will take office in 2013. If approved, the question would then go to voters in a statewide referendum in the year 2014.
“Along with the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans and 96 percent of the rest of this nation, I feel that the citizens of this state ought to have a ‘say so’ in the highest legal office in Tennessee,” she concluded.