Advocates for amending Tennessee’s constitution to establish a new way of picking appellate-level state court judges — including members of the Tennessee Supreme Court — have launched their campaign effort to convince voters of the plan.
Proponents of Amendment 2 on the November ballot include many recognizable politicians, powerful government officials and influential Tennessee attorneys, and they gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday to show their support for passage of the referendum. The General Assembly has already approved the measure, the chief sponsor of which was Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown.
Among those throwing their weight toward the “Vote YES on 2” effort are Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and Fred Thompson, the actor, former Republican United States senator and one-time presidential candidate. The three spoke with reporters about why they think the governor and Legislature — and not the voters — are best suited to pick judges.
Many believe the present wording of the Tennessee Constitution mandates that those seeking positions on the Supreme Court and appellate benches ought to first have to win those posts in open, contested general elections. However, several Supreme Court rulings have held otherwise. Last summer, former Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn said he regretted signing the 1971 legislation that established the state’s “retention election” system currently in place.