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Casada’s Judicial Elections Bill Shelved

Despite opposition from the governor and both speakers, and a delay in committee, Rep. Glen Casada says he still plans to move forward with a bill requiring the election of judges.

But it’s now on hold for a while.

The bill, HB173, was postponed Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to be brought up again at the final committee meeting of the year.

The issue of judicial selection has elicited diverse opinions from lawmakers, as well as several proposed solutions.

House Majority Leader Rep. Gerald McCormick has said he believes the Constitution plainly calls for judicial elections, but favors the proposal brought by Gov. Bill Haslam, Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, which would amend the Constitution to enshrine the current system.

“In the end we’ll vote and whoever has the most votes wins,” he told TNReport Tuesday. “And certainly if I’m on the losing end of that, I’ll take it in stride and keep moving along. It won’t be the end of the Republic. But I think there’s a better way to do it and I don’t think it’s the way [Casada] does it. We’ll see who has the most votes.”

On Tuesday, Haslam urged the committee not to advance the bill.

Casada, R-Franklin, had expressed confidence before the hearing about the bill’s chances. He told TNReport Tuesday, after the committee meeting, he’s not backing off and that the delay affords him the chance to address what he sees as the only credible argument against the bill.

“The only argument on this bill that has any legs – and they’re very small legs – is that it will be costly to elect five Supreme Court judges across the state,” he said. “Rep. [Rick] Womick has come up with an amendment that divides the state into five districts and you run district-wide. That would really cut down the cost. Actually it’s kind of ingenious on his part. It’s got my attention. But gosh, I couldn’t run it just seeing it for the first time.”

He went on, speaking of his decision not to oppose the delay. “I ran a risk by doing what I did. But, with that said, I thought the risk was worthwhile because the only argument that I think is credible, I may have an answer to.”

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