Justice Jeffrey Bivins, who was sworn-in to serve on Tennessee’s high court just last month, spoke in favor of the Amendment 2 ballot referendum as part of a state Farm Bureau policy conference on Aug. 14.
Amendment 2 is a proposal to change how Tennessee selects appellate-level judges, including those who serve on the state Supreme Court. Currently, the governor appoints judges to serve from a list of names sent to him from a nominating commission.
While the system has been in place for decades, there remains controversy as to whether it comports with the plain wording of the Tennessee Constitution, which declares that judges shall be elected by voters. Bivins noted in his speech that if Amendment 2 fails, there will likely be a concerted push in the Tennessee Legislature next year to establish a system of direct, contested judicial elections — a prospect judges themselves and the state’s legal establishment in general oppose.