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Memphis Library Cards OK for Voter ID, Court Finds

Cards issued by the Memphis Public Library are acceptable identification for voting purposes, the state Court of Appeals determined in a ruling today that also upheld Tennessee’s photo ID law.

The 18-page opinion was a partial victory for the city, which had pushed to have the new law declared unconstitutional but, if it was upheld, to force election officials to accept the library cards, which include a photo.

The court determined that the city of Memphis qualifies as “a branch, department, agency or entity of this state,” the standard written into law in 2011 by the Legislature. Lawmakers said voters could cast ballots using photo IDs issued by such entities, or by other states or the federal government.

The city in its argument for finding the law unconstitutional had said it imposed undue costs on voters and violated the equal protection clause since voters casting mail-in ballots are not required to show photo ID.

The court dismissed those assertions.

The requirement that prospective voters present photographic identification to vote in person is not an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote under the Tennessee Constitution.

More from the decision:

In absentee voting, the voter does not appear before an election official and, therefore, cannot present photographic identification.

Such a requirement in the context of absentee voting would be nonsensical. We hold that requiring in-person voters to provide photographic identification while not requiring absentee voters to do so does not violate Article XI, Sec. 8 of the Tennessee Constitution.

Rep. Debra Maggart, who sponsored the photo ID law, criticized the decision.

“While I am encouraged our law was ruled constitutional, the fact the Court decided to add to it is disappointing,” Maggart, R-Hendersonville, said in a statement. “Not only has the Court gone beyond the clear intent of the law by allowing library cards, it has also created an exception for the city of Memphis that falls below the standard for the rest of Tennessee. This is the definition of ‘legislating from the bench’ and, frankly, is unacceptable.”

Maggart won’t be around to push back against the court with any legislation after being defeated in the August primary by newcomer Courtney Rogers.

Two GOP lawmakers who will be, and will wield far-reaching power to shape any such legislation, responded to the ruling.

“I might not have ruled that way, but they are the court. They are the law of the land,” House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said in an interview with TNReport. Harwell said she would need to review the court’s decision before commenting further but that she would not be surprised if the Legislature took action.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said the court had not properly interpreted the will of the Legislature.

“While allowing library cards clearly violates the legislative intent of this law, the court rightly affirmed the law’s constitutionality,” Ramsey, R-Blountville, said in a statement.

Tennessee Citizen Action, a left-leaning advocacy group that has opposed the law, cheered the portion of the ruling allowing for library cards.

“It should send a clear message to the Tennessee State Legislature that their attempts last session to limit allowable IDs to only a handful was both restrictive and excessive,” Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, said in a statement.

Most Tennesseans support the law, according to a Middle Tennessee State University poll taken earlier this year.

The state’s photo ID law is among the strictest in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eleven states require photo identification at the polls. In six others, photo ID laws are being litigated or still require approval from the Justice Department.

Nineteen states require nonphoto identification at the polls, according to the NCSL.

Casada Looking to Jump Back into House GOP Leadership Role

Rep. Glen Casada says if he learned anything from his GOP leadership successor Rep. Debra Maggart, it’s to take nothing for granted.

Casada is considering a move to reclaim his seat as the House Republican Caucus chairman and replace Maggart following her fiery primary election defeat fueled by Second Amendment advocates who disapproved of her role in blocking a key gun bill.

“Being in leadership is very time-consuming, and if you’re not careful, it can overwhelm you with your responsibilities for the caucus,” Casada told TNReport in a recent interview.

“You can maybe put your district in second place — and just enough where it can cost you an election. I’m not saying that’s what happened to Debra, but it’s something you’ve got to be mindful of,” he said.

The Franklin Republican, who left the chairman’s post to run a failed bid  for speaker in 2010, brings to the caucus a conservative voice at a time when the gun-rights lobby is showing off its political strength. The GOP caucus lost seven incumbents including Maggart in this month’s primary election. Two others squeaked by,winning with margins as tight as four votes.

Casada is generally regarded as more in tune with House conservatives than Speaker Beth Harwell, who edged out Casada to win the gavel two years ago. Harwell typically works hand-in-glove with Gov. Bill Haslam, both of whom are centrists who’ve been criticized at times by party conservatives for being more attentive to big business interests than grassroots concerns.

However, Casada is himself loathe to criticize Harwell. The chief reason he’s uninterested in trying to make a grab at the speaker’s gavel again this year is that “Beth has done a good job,” he said.

“Things are well. We’re cutting taxes. Government’s small. Things are going well in the state of Tennessee so I see no reason to switch at this stage,” Casada said.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, on the other hand, isn’t so happy with the status quo. The conservative Tullahoma Republican is mulling a run for speaker. Matheney told The Associated Press earlier this month that as a result of his conservative politics he feels he’s “purposefully been put in a box” by the caucus higher-ups.

For his part, Casada says House leadership has never made him feel like that. He said he feels he would “add to, not conflict with, the leadership team” of Harwell and GOP Leader Gerald McCormick, who says he expects Casada would fit naturally back into a leadership role, if he pursues the seat.

“We heal our wounds very quickly in the Republican Party and in our caucus, and I think you’ll see us come together again,” McCormick told TNReport. “I don’t sense any tensions there, and I think Glen and Beth will work really well together and be part of a good team if he choses to run for caucus chairman or another position and wins. I don’t think there would be any problem at all.”

TFA’s Tips for Getting Politically Active

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 23, 2012: 

“What Can I do?”

We frequently receive the question from people who want to get involved in protecting their rights “What can I do?”

There is much everyone can do – even if you have limits or are even restricted to home. For example, TFA has a group on Facebook. It has over 1000 people in that group and that group has an active discussion almost constantly discussing issues and news reports. https://www.facebook.com/groups/tennesseefirearms This group was extremely active during the primary races and we expect it to be very active as well as the November elections. Even if you are not “on Facebook” consider setting up an account to participate on this resource.

TFA also has an online forum that is open to the public. It is www.tfaonline.org/forum It has a number of sections to discuss and explore issues related to a wide variety of topics. Common topics there include legislative and legal issues. It is also the primary source to keep up with announcements regarding the TFA chapter meetings across the state.

Please consider joining both. We use them to push and distribute information. More importantly these online venues are an area for you to get involved and to introduce yourself and others to grow this network and information ring. Its a place to share and congregate information. For example, one thing that is always helpful is to have people in all parts of the state watching constantly for news articles, TV stories and other reports that can be linked to the Facebook page and the TFA online forum to share with others and as a point of discussion.

Another thing that can be done is to make sure you have the personal and/or office numbers of all candidates for office and also those who are selected as your personal House and Senate members. Keep those telephone numbers and email addresses handy. Stay in touch with them – at least once or twice a month. Let them know you are interested in issues such as the Safe Commute Act, open parks and even the selection of legislative leadership. Often, you do not have to even tell them what you want – often it is enough to ask them questions about where they are on these issues. If you watch the TFA FB group and forum, the issues that you can ask them about will come up there as a matter of course.

As noted above, one big issue for all constitutionalists and conservatives in Tennessee is the issue of government leadership. While Republicans “candidates” and state party leaders have claimed for years while the Republicans were the minority party that they were the true conservatives, what we have seen over the last 4 years bears out little of that. Look specifically at leadership. Consider specifically Haslam, Ramsey and Harwell and the “fruits” of their dispositions over the last 2 years.

For example, many anticipate – or fear – that Haslam, with his vast personal and family fortune, will re-purchase his office in 2014. Can we afford another four years of a Governor that places a higher value on pleasing corporations than standing up for the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens of this state? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has promoted Sharia, while demonizing those of us who are concerned about the danger posed by that socio-political system? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has either left liberals in charge at all levels of our state government or has actively appointed them? Can we afford another four years of his corrosive influence on the legislature and the promotion of left of center values?

Ron Ramsey campaigned with his famous cowboy boots to cleanup state government. Well, he may not be the governor but he is the highest ranking senator. As we saw with the Safe Commute Act he knows how to block legislation from coming to the floor for consideration and a vote by all elected senators. He knows how to deprive all citizens of having their voices heard through their own senators. So, what evidence is there that he has done anything to stop or resist Haslam? Is the evidence more likely to establish the inference that his campaign against Haslam for governor turned to one of “whatever Haslam wants is fine.” Has Ramsey traded those cowboy boots for flip flops is a question we have heard more than once.

Then we have Beth Harwell. Look at her miserable voting record where she often puts other issues – any other issues – as a higher priority than her sworn oath to uphold the Constitution. Look at who she selected as her 2nd lieutenants – Debra Maggart and Gerald McCormick. Enough said.

There is much to be done. At a minimum, every conservative who believes that the priorities of state government come from mandates of God, from the principles underlying the Constitution and then from the people must be ever engaged with their voices and presence to impress on those who seek and hold office that they are stewards vested with temporary authority not rulers serving by divine right. We must know which of those seeking public office have the right priorities and which, like too many in leadership now, have inverted their priorities so that the most important thing to them is the perpetuation of their own positional power to rule over us. Knowing who has the right mind and spirit of a steward, we must work to prune the tree of liberty of those who do not work first to restore and protect the liberties on which this state and country were founded.

Debra Maggart was not the goal – she was merely the long hanging fruit in this specific election.

Recall the words of Samuel Adams —

“It does not take a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority
keen on setting brush fires of freedom
in the minds of men.”

TFA: Demand General Assembly Take Accountability for Maggart ‘Lies, Bullying’

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 27, 2012: 

This is the entire body of message that went to all legislators in Tennessee this morning. Call your legislators now and reinforce this message. Demand that they speak out publicly against Maggart’s lies and bullying. DO NOT let them tell you that they want to “stay out of it” – they are elected officials and sometimes that means demanding publicly ethical conduct of their peers.

The Tennessee Firearms Association has taken a position on Debra Maggart and focused our attention and resources on her as an example of what is wrong with the General Assembly.

All legislators have some, and in some instances for those who have publicly endorsed her a significant degree of, accountability for the actions of Debra Maggart. She is a selected leader of the Republican caucus. She is a legislator and is subject to ethics charges. She is causing great concern to arise regarding whether the entire legislature is nothing but a cesspool of people more concerned about being re-elected than representing the people with the honor and truthfulness of a steward. It is your opportunity and obligation to demonstrate to the people of this state that you do not stand with or condone lying and unethical legislators and that you will speak the truth to condemn misconduct of those in public office.

TFA is demanding that each legislator take action to stop Debra Maggart. She is engaged in inappropriate and unethical conduct in her campaign. She needs to be told to immediately stop and apologize. That demand needs to be made public so that there is no question who stood for truth and who stands with or even silently tolerates a liar. There is no setting on the sidelines as a spectator for an elected official who lies and abuses her position of power. You either condemn this action or your inaction signals your willing acceptance of it.

Each legislator has the ability to bring ethics charges against Debra Maggart.

Each legislator has the ability to stand up and publicly renounce the intentional lies and misrepresentations of Debra Maggart.

Each legislator has the ability to tell the lobbyists that they do not have to submit to Debra Maggart’s demands for support in her campaign or risk retaliation.

Each legislator’s actions or inactions will be measured in the public dialogue.

So, what are the problems that demand your involvement – NOW?

1. Debra Maggart is using her legislative telephone number on her campaign advertising. It can be inferred that by doing so she is using her legislative office phone services, office supplies and state paid staff in her re-election campaign. This may be a criminal violation and if not it should be. This certainly should be an ethics violation and should be prosecuted with an ethics complaint of the most harsh degree. This absolutely is wrong and she should be publicly chastised by her legislative peers for her gross misconduct.

This is what she is using as a campaign footer:
© Debra Young Maggart | State Representative 45th District
112 La Bar Dr. Hendersonville, TN 37075 | 615-741-3893
Paid for by Debra Maggart for State Representative; Debra Maggart, Treasurer
This email was sent to xxx@xxx.com. To ensure that you continue receiving our emails, please add us to your address book or safe list.
manage your preferences | opt out using TrueRemove™ Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
Powered by Keystone

Is Debra also using her legislative budget to pay for this email service? Who knows. However, are you willing as elected officials to be accountable to your constituents for letting another legislator use state paid resources – including staff – in her re-election campaign? Your actions – including your silence – will answer that question in the next few days.

2. Debra Maggart is intentionally lying to the public about the candidate disclosure form. It is an intentional misrepresentation by Maggart and should be condemned.

The facts are simple. Candidates for office must fill out a disclosure form (the state SS-8004). One question on the form asks:

Bankruptcy – List any adjudication of bankruptcy or discharge received in any United States district court within five (5) years of the date of this report.

Lt. Col. Rogers answered “none” to that question. That was truthful and accurate answer.

Rogers and her husband did file bankruptcy following a failed business effort after retiring from the military. The Rogers chapter 7 bankruptcy according to the Court’s records, was opened on 3/2/05. They were discharged on 6/15/05 but the court appointed bankruptcy trustee did not conclude the administration of the estate and close it until 7/28/08. Those are specific and federally defined terms.

Rogers’ discharge is indisputably on March 2, 2005. Roger’s disclosure form is dated 3/19/12. Therefore, the relevant window regarding the bankruptcy question would be 3/19/07. Roger’s discharge was almost 2 years prior and clearly outside the five year window designated on the form so a “none” response was truthful and accurate.

Apparently, the state did not consider bankruptcies older than 5 years to be relevant because it specifically created the five year window . The question clearly requires the disclosure of any “discharge” which is a specific legal event under federal law not the date the estate was “closed”.

The date of a “discharge” is critical under 11 USC Secs 524 and 727 because it is that specific event and date which determines the rights and obligations of future creditors. The termination of prior claims as to the individuals granted the discharge and many other matters. The date a bankruptcy estate is closed has nothing to do with a discharge or even whether a discharge is ever granted.

TFA has the bankruptcy file and will email it to you if necessary to resolve the disagreement on the facts.

TNReport.com is one of the few news agencies that has actually reported on this story. Other news agencies have reported that Maggart was “shopping” the story but after looking into it they concluded it was not a factually reliable story. TNReport issued this story on July 9.

http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/07/09/bankruptcy-filing-haunts-challenger-to-maggart/

In it, they asked a Nashville bankruptcy attorney, Ed Rothschild to review the matter for them. This is the quote from the story:

But a Nashville bankruptcy attorney questioned whether the chain of events in Rogers’ case met the five-year test.
The late closing of the case had nothing to do with the actual ruling and liquidation, which was finished by 2005, says Edgar Rothschild, who was not involved in the case and reviewed the documents at the request of TNReport.
“I see nothing unusual about the fact that it was opened in 2005 and not closed until 2008,” he said. “The fact that the trustee took so long moving his paperwork along and disposing of the assets had nothing to do with the debtors. There is nothing in the report which indicated that the debtors did anything questionable.”

The fact is clear that what Debra Maggart is using as her primary negative attack on Lt. Col. Rogers is intentionally and knowingly false. Perhaps, it is perhaps possible that Maggart is too illiterate to know the difference – but let her make that excuse. In either event, she apparently hopes that the citizens will not learn or know the truth until its too late to make a difference.

Maggart has tried to make a big issue out of this. In response, the Rogers campaign has already asked elected members of the General Assembly to “sanction their own”. It is sad that apparently none of you have publicly done so at this point. That is sad because your silence turns your back on and thereby condones intentional lies by Maggart. Are you willing to tolerate that kind of deceitful and unethical misconduct?

3. Debra Maggart has taken on the NRA and is now lying about her record. Debra Maggart has put out a campaign ad that claims:

– Debra Maggart has consistently been given an A+ rating by the NRA—the highest rating possible on gun rights.

While Debra claims – as do most of you – that the NRA is the leading entity for giving endorsements on 2nd Amendment issues, Debra misleads the public by claiming she has an “A+” rating when in fact she received a “D” from the NRA this year. That is a clear and undeniable lie. Are you willing to tolerate that kind of deceitful and unethical misconduct regarding what is normally a cherished NRA endorsement?

4. Debra Maggart is falsely claiming that Lt. Col. Rogers is running a “negative campaign”. While it is true that the NRA and the TFA are negative on Maggart, Lt. Col. Rogers is not attacking Maggart other than discussing specific votes and specific bills.

5. Debra Maggart is misusing her campaign funds. In the Summer of 2011, Maggart and 14 other members of the TN General Assembly made a trip to China (http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=61517).

Debra Maggart apparently saw fit to reimburse herself for luggage for that trip from her Campaign Finance Account. If you go to https://apps.tn.gov/tncamp-app/public/cpsearch.htm you can enter the last name of a candidate and access the candidate’s campaign finance reports. If you access Rep. Maggart’s “Early Mid Year Supplemental (2011)” report you will find an entry for the reimbursement of a $431.54 “Travel Expense” she paid to Mori Luggage in Nashville. The entry is dated 2/28/2011. Tennessee statutes prohibit the use of campaign funds for the personal use of a candidate.

Also of interest in that same report is an entry for the purchase of $2,084.15 in furniture from C.W. Sanderson, Kenton, TN. The entry indicates the reimbursement to Rep. Maggart is for “Legislative Office Furniture.” Since the State of Tennessee provides furniture for her Nashville office one must assume the purchase was for her “home office.”

That report also includes two entries to Home Depot for “Legislative Office Paint” and several entries for “Office Supplies.” All these entries should be viewed with the understanding that the State of Tennessee provides a $1,000 a month to you as members of the General Assembly to offset expenses involved in maintaining an office in their home district.

Debra Maggart is trying to twist the arms of legislators to support her campaign. Do not fall for it. Debra Maggart and perhaps others have made their bed by selling out constitutional rights and getting in bed with Federal Express and its conspirators. When her campaign reports are filed, those who support her with money will be on public record.

TFA is asking you now to stand up and be good stewards. Do not allow your inaction on these issues to signal to the public that you condone Debra Maggart’s conduct. Hold her accountable for her actions. Hold her accountable openly and in the public square and discourse.

Maggart: NRA’s ‘Negative Campaigning’ Led to Her Defeat

Leading House Republican Rep. Debra Maggart hasn’t decided whether she’ll make another go if it in 2014 following her recent GOP primary defeat in Sumner County.

The Hendersonville Republican blamed her loss on the National Rifle Federation and the Tennessee Firearms Association which “dumped over $150,000” worth of political ads into the race, she said.

“To tell the people of my district over and over and over that I am for gun control, which is a total lie, was very effective. People say they don’t like negative campaigning, but negative campaigning works,” she said following a roundtable discussion between Gov. Bill Haslam, legislators and business and education officials about improving higher education while at Tennessee Technology Center in Nashville Tuesday.

A review of contributions by political action committees indicated the NRA and TFA collectively injected $102,000 into the race.

Maggart’s opponent, Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers, enjoyed a 57 percent favorable vote to Maggart’s 43 percent to defeat the incumbent in the Aug. 2 Republican primary election. Rogers now goes on to compete with Democrat Jeanette Jackson in the general.

Maggart, who will serve out her term until the Nov. 6 election, said her loss does anything but call into question public concern over the direction legislative leaders are taking the state.

“Only then did it start getting people’s attention, and according to my polling data, it didn’t get heated until the NRA did what they did,” she said.

Asked whether she would run for reelection in 2014 to reclaim the legislative seat she’s held since 2005, she said it’s too early to tell what the future holds.

Democrats Down a Few Incumbents, Too

Incumbent Tennessee Democrats evaded the kind of thrashing administered by legislative primary voters to their Republican counterparts. But they didn’t come away entirely unbloodied either.

Five incumbent Democrats were voted out of office Thursday. Among them were four who lost against fellow lawmakers who they were pitted against as a part of redistricting, and one culled by a Democratic challenger.

Heading into the November general election, the minority party now can focus on their an uphill battle trying to recover from two years ago when Democrats lost 14 seats in the House and one in the Senate.

“We’ve had a little dip in the road here and we need to make sure Tennessee stays focused on those three things, jobs, education and good fiscal management,” said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, who faces his own re-election challenger in November.

“We have some very good candidates. If people would just give them a look we could elect some and we can overcome the problems we had in redistricting and retirements,” he said.

GOP-directed redistricting earlier this year merged Democrat-leaning districts and resulted in the purging of four rank-and-file incumbent Democrats from Legislature. Other Democrats saw the writing on the wall and opted to retire this year in lieu of running uphill races against Republicans.

Of those ousted was Memphis Sen. Beverly Marrero, a high-ranking Democrat who had served the Legislature for the better part of a decade. She lost her seat to to Minority Leader Jim Kyle by 10 percentage points, a result of Republicans pinning the two against each other after Kyle asked that he be placed in Marrero’s district instead of that of neighboring Republican Brian Kelsey.

Also in Memphis, Rep. John Deberry outdistanced Rep. Jeanne Richardson while Rep. G.A. Hardaway beat out Rep. Mike Kernell, a veteran lawmaker whose career spanned four decades. Both races won on nearly 2-to-1 margins.

The race was even clearer in Chattanooga where Rep. Joanne Favors defeated Rep. Tommie Brown on an almost 3-to-1 margin, winning 3,957 votes to Brown’s 1,514.

But that wasn’t the last of the Democratic defeats Thursday. Longtime Nashville Rep. Mary Pruitt fell to challenger Harrold Love by a mere 41 votes.

The election isn’t over for Kyle and Favors, though, as they both face off against Republicans in the November election.

Even as Democrats lick their wounds, they’re hopeful general election voters will reject the victorious crop of conservative upstarts who picked off incumbent Republicans on Aug. 2.

“You don’t want to ever think negatively about your opponents getting beaten in the primary and all that, but the fact is this can only be encouraging to the general election on our side,” said Fitzhugh, adding the defeats will ultimately make for “a little different complexion on the ultimate makeup of the General Assembly.”

A GOP leadership crisis means opportunities for Democrats, Sen. Lowe Finney, the Democratic Caucus chairman, said in a press release Friday. “When you look at the number of incumbents unseated last night, it’s clear the Legislature will be a very different place next year,” he said. “I’m confident the Democrats can be very influential in that environment.”

Among the ousted GOPs were high-ranking leaders like Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart and Education Chairman Richard Montgomery.

But even as Republicans regroup after this week’s political upsets and await to hear if the results of close races will be challenged, they argue they still see Democrats as “at a severe disadvantage” in the general election, said state GOP Party Chairman Chris Devaney.

Maggart Congratulates Rogers, Expresses Thanks for Time in Legislature

Statement from State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville; August 3, 2012:  

Serving Sumner County in the Tennessee House of Representatives for the past eight years has been a true honor. I am proud to have been the first female Majority House Caucus Chair.

I would like to thank Gov. Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Speaker Harwell, and all my friends at the General Assembly. I am so proud of the work we have accomplished together; from cracking down on sex offenders, to ensuring ballot integrity by requiring a photo ID to vote, to cutting taxes and balancing the budget, to supporting the pro life movement. We truly have a lot to be proud of.

I am equally proud of the supporters that rallied around this campaign and I am blessed to have such dear friends.

I congratulate Courtney Rogers and wish her the best of luck.

I commit to staying involved in this community and will still be at the forefront of our conservative cause. I also commit to assisting my colleagues in the General Assembly moving forward. The wonderful people Tennessee has elected to office are some of my dearest friends and I appreciate their support as well.

Courting Conflicts

Most defendants would love to have the power to handpick judges assigned to decide a lawsuit against them. Gov. Bill Haslam, it seems, finds himself in just that enviable position.

Late last Friday afternoon, Haslam announced he had chosen the members of a special ad hoc panel. The panel will serve as a temporary state Supreme Court to rule on a lawsuit that names the governor as a defendant.

The move became necessary after all the the sitting members of the Tennessee Supreme Court recused themselves from hearing the case of John Jay Hooker, on behalf of himself and others, v. Governor Bill Haslam, et al. The lawsuit on appeal is a challenge to the constitutionality of Tennessee’s “merit selection” appointment and “retention election” system of picking appellate and Supreme Court judges.

Asked at a press conference this week if he’d struggled with the potential appearance of a conflict of interest, Haslam indicated his administration had indeed discussed the matter and had decided that he was required by law to appoint the panel.

“We talked with our legal counsel about that,” the governor said after a higher education discussion at Scripps Network in Knoxville Tuesday.

“If the existing Supreme Court recuses themselves, somebody has to appoint them and that’s the governor’s role under the Constitution in the state of Tennessee,” he said.

The matter has been simmering in the background for years, with Hooker, an outlying but ever-enduring fixture on Tennessee’s political scene, tending the flame. The subject of judicial elections has taken on renewed prominence in the past couple years, as many majority-party Republican lawmakers have said they are committed to reconciling the practice of selecting judges with the state Constitution, which they see as at odds with one another.

Hooker told TNReport this week he knew from the get-go Haslam would have to choose members for the special court. But he says he has the right to question and challenge those appointments, for example that of William Barker, a retired Supreme Court justice.

“How can he possibly be impartial in the matter?” Hooker said. “He’s got a vested interest. What is the difference in his interest as a former member of the Supreme Court or the sitting member on the Supreme Court?”

The court system so far has no timeline for when the case would be heard, according to Casey Mahoney, the court system spokeswoman.

House Speaker Beth Harwell is also named in the lawsuit. Her office says there’s nothing worrisome about the governor appointing judges on the court to hear the case.

“It is a statutory duty of the governor to appoint a special state Supreme Court in instances such as this, and literally no one else in the state is given such authority,” said spokeswoman Kara Owen. “There is no reason to expect that this panel would be anything but fair and impartial in the proceedings.”

The outcome of the legal decision could be paramount in the ongoing fight over whether the state is truly “electing” judges.

High-ranking members of the judiciary are selected by the governor who then face “yes-no” retention elections to renew their eight-year terms. Critics of the current system known as the “Tennessee Plan” say the Tennessee Constitution calls for judges to be “elected,” much like lawmakers and lower-level judges are.

The state Constitution says, “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State.” It also states, “The judges of the Circuit and Chancery Courts, and of other inferior Courts, shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district or circuit to which they are to be assigned.”

Haslam and the top two Republican legislative leaders are resolute opponents to high-ranking judges facing popular elections. The trio rallied around the idea of rewriting the constitution to reflect how judges are currently selected, but the Republican-led legislature was split on the idea and ultimately dumped that proposal, SJR184, late in the legislative session.

Instead, they agreed on SJR710, which stipulates that the General Assembly should first have to approve the governor’s judicial appointees, then send the judges on their way to retention elections.

House Republican Caucus Leader Debra Maggart voted in favor of legislative confirmation, although attempts to reach her for comment on the lawsuit were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Courtney Rogers, a Republican running against Maggart in Sumner County, maintains that the state ought to bring itself in line with a literal reading of the constitution and require judges to face popular elections, said her spokesman Jeff Heartline. Although he said she had no preference yet on how the constitution should assign judges to the bench.

“If we were following the Constitution, these questions wouldn’t come up,” said Rogers’ spokesman Jeff Hartline, when asked what Rogers thought about the lawsuit. “Let’s follow the constitution and let the people decide.”

The issue has divided Republicans in the Legislature and on the primary campaign trail. Sen. Doug Overby, R-Maryville, has stressed that people shouldn’t employ their own literal reading of the state’s guiding document to justify judicial election. They should instead look to the Supreme Court’s guidance on matters of interpretation.

Andrea Zelinski and Itzel Gonzalez contributed to this report.

TFA: Maggart Lying About Record of Gun-Rights Support

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 1, 2012: 

Debra Maggart’s “right” to be re-election in serious doubt

A few weeks ago, Debra Maggart told the Tennessean (that story appears to be off line now but is referenced on other news sites) that Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers was not a “legitimate challenger”. Regardless of the outcome on Thursday, Maggart cannot make that claim now as she has been attacked by practically every grassroots organization interested in the 2nd Amendment in the last 2 months – viciously. All of this citizen based grassroots support is solidly aligned behind and working to for Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers.

It appears Maggart did not in truth take the Rogers race seriously until perhaps mid July. At that point, it appears Maggart has made an all out effort to defend her seat on one lie. Maggart is running an ad campaign that claims Rogers inappropriate answered “none” on a candidate disclosure form which asked if she had been “discharged” from bankruptcy in the preceding 5 years. Rogers answered truthful because her business related bankruptcy was almost 7 years prior at the time. 7 is more than 5 to most “fifth graders” but not to Debra Maggart.

This past week, another national organization has joined the effort to elect Lt. Col. Rogers and defeat Debra Maggart. That organization is NAGR, the National Association of Gun Rights. It joins the ranks of TFA, NRA, and others all of which expertly and credibly note that Maggart has worked to impair 2nd Amendment rights in Tennessee.

Debra Maggart’s claims that she has been good in 2011 and 2012 on the 2nd Amendment are no more credible that her other advertising – lies, all lies.

Republican leaders like Debra Maggart and Gerald McCormick have been claiming that their number one job is to re-elect incumbents – nothing more than a heightened partisan role. In a TNReport.com news report dated June 1, 2012, their “partisan first” and “incumbent first” mentalities are highlighted:

Tennessee Republicans are looking to tighten their grip on state government in the Nov. 6 general election by winning an even larger legislative majority than they’ve enjoyed the last two years.

But party leaders, particularly in the House, say a first priority is to ensure that members of their caucus survive challenges in the Aug. 2 primary.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart both say incumbents winning primaries is a prime concern. In McCormick’s words, incumbents deserve to be “rewarded on election day” for responsibly governing since they began dominating state politics two years ago.

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Maggart sees it as her unwavering responsibility to ensure sitting lawmakers get their jobs back next year. And she faces her own tough re-election challenge against Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.

Supporting a candidate can mean everything from political donations from individual lawmakers or the well-funded House GOP Caucus, appearances from high-ranking lawmakers such as Speaker Beth Harwell and even coming out to knock on doors or work political fundraisers.

“My job is to bring the incumbents back,” Maggart told TNReport. “That’s our job — my job — as the caucus leader.”

Debra Maggart claims that they are entitled to be “Republican” re-elected. That they are entitled to be rewarded as “Republican” incumbents. Maggart claims its her “job” to bring them back.

The big question is whether this allegedly “illegitimate” challenge from Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers and the opposition of serious citizens and grassroots organizations is proving that a Debra Maggart is going to have a hard time doing her job as the “caucus” leader of even getting herself re-elected much less others!

Indeed, she and Harwell have reportedly been begging other Republican incumbents to give Maggart their campaign contributions from their own races to try and save Maggart herself from the allegedly illegitimate challenge to her throne. Although we will not know until the October disclosure reports are filed, my bet is that very few of these other Republican incumbents have given her money and even fewer have stepped up as of the eve of the election and publicly stood and endorsed Maggart.

TFA Questions Maggart’s Truthfulness

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 25, 2012: 

Debra Maggart has been running a radio ad claiming that Courtney Rogers has used a “loophole” to avoid disclosing on her campaign disclosures whether she had a bankruptcy discharge within 5 years of the disclosure report. The fact is that Courtney Rogers had a business related bankruptcy 6 years prior to the time that she filed the report. The fact is that many of a military veterans and small business owners after September 11 2001 found themselves having to file bankruptcy. The fact is – even for most of those in pre-K – that 6 is a number that is not equal to or less than 5.

Debra Maggart is lying about those facts. Perhaps “lying” is too strong for some people. Perhaps she is just too stupid to understand the instructions on the form. Perhaps she thinks she will not get caught by the voters for misleading them. Perhaps, and this one is scary, she has a delusional mental illness that impairs her ability to understand fact from fiction – something like the “insanity plea” that criminals rely upon when they do really heinous things.

Did you hear Steve Gill this morning? He absolutely ripped Maggart for most of his “bonus hour” on his radio show and broke down each of Maggart’s false statements in her ad against Rogers.

http://iheartradio.com/cc-common/widget/audvid.swf?wid=7930

From this link, pick the Steve Gill Bonus Hour from July 25 and prepare to get angry with the lies and deception of Debra Maggart.

Listen to the entire clip. If you need some landmarks to replay, click in at about the 14 minute mark. Gill breaks down the Maggart lies in her advertisement by taking statement by statement and phrase by phrase and discussing Maggart’s lies. There is no doubt that Maggart is an unrepentant liar who believes that she can lie to the public and get away with it. Interestingly, Pastor Maury Davis from Cornerstone Church calls in at about this time to comment as well and he is clearly not defending Debra Maggart.

Steve Gill also broke the story this morning that Maggart and House Leadership are pressuring other House Caucus members – all of whom have their own races to run – to “max out” on contributions to Maggart’s campaign so that Maggart can apparently make some very large media purchases. (click at the 20 minute mark). The indicator is that she is trying to raise another $80,000 or more for TV spots.

Steve Gill also raises a very serious question about the rest of the House Republican caucus, Republican leadership – even the Governor. It is important to note that the House Republican caucus SELECTED Maggart as their caucus chair. Certainly, we are not to believe that none of those caucus members knew the truth that is Debra Maggart and her incapacity for truth. So, with the clear evidence that Maggart is lying, how many of these Republican caucus members are coming out and condemning the liar? How many are pledging that they will not support Debra Maggart even if she somehow returns to office? How many are pledging to support Courtney Rogers as the better and more ethical candidate for that office? It appears that NONE of them are doing so. What does that say about those elected officials?

Others in Republican leadership – notably Haslam, Ramsey, Harwell and McCormick have all publicly proclaimed their unwavering support for Debra Maggart’s re-election. Have any of them recanted or demanded that Maggart withdraw the lies and tell the truth – NO, none of them have done so. We did not expect Haslam to do so but what about Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey? Is he so awash in political power that he will side with a known liar rather than stand for the truth? That may sadly be the case. By their knowing association and failure to condemn heinous campaign dishonesty, all of them are co-conspirators in the lies and deception that is Debra Maggart.

Debra Maggart is the target in 2012 but the fact is that the landscape for 2014’s races is not looking a lot like a “whack-a-mole” of liars and those tolerant of liars. The hard part for the next election cycle is going to be selecting the most egregious ones to target in that election cycle and raising once again the grassroots frustration to get it done.

Right now, however, the task is clear. If you have not donated time and money to the battle to elect Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers and to defeat a willing liar like Debra Maggart – you need to do so.

We must demand the capacity of truthfulness from our elected officials. We must remove those who have a proven record of lying to the public. We must demand constitutional leadership from all elected officials including those in state and local leadership.

Many TFA members have already driven from as far as Memphis to come work “on the ground” to knock doors and speak with local voters. Saturday July 28 is the last Saturday before the primary. This is a call to action for all TFA members and supporters to come and spend a day, even a few hours if that is all you have, to help this citizen patriot veteran candidate prevail in this battle to defeat Debra Maggart.

Plan to meet in Goodlettsville on Saturday July 28th for a pre-election sign waving day. Wear your TFA shirts and hats. If you do not have them, we should have some available that morning. Bring water and other items for a few hours as a volunteer.

There will be a group, probably being directed by Mike Rogers, in the parking lot at “Big K” at 230 Long Hollow Pike, Goodlettsville, Tennessee that will be organizing the volunteers that morning. Arrive as early as possible but any time between 9:00am and 1:00pm to get location assignments, signs and push cards. You will be assigned to an intersection or other location from that point. You may be assigned to work by knocking doors and bring the good news that there is a strong alternative to the liar known as Maggart. People is Sumner County want and need an alternative and all that needs to be done is to make that introduction in many instances.

Please RSVP to johnharris AT tennesseefirearms.com so that we can advise the campaign how many 2nd Amendment supporters to expect this Saturday.