Press Release from Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville, July 28, 2015:
NASHVILLE- House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart issues the following response to reports that Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey intends to let partisan politics dictate the choice for the next Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
“Until now, Tennessee Governors of both parties have picked Justices of our highest court based on merit, not politics. For example, in 2007 Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen selected Justice Bill Koch, who had earlier served as Legal Counsel to Republican Governor Lamar Alexander. In so doing, Governor Bredesen was following a long tradition of merit-based selection that has for decades made Tennessee Courts a model for non-partisan, fair-minded decision making.”
“Now Lieutenant Governor Ramsey has stated publicly that he wants to end all that, openly pushing for a ‘Republican Supreme Court majority’. Respectfully, the Lieutenant Governor’s position would be a wrong turn for our state. The Courts are not intended to be just another partisan arm of government. Our judges have an independent duty to uphold the laws passed by the peoples’ representatives – a duty that transcends the judges’ personal political beliefs. We have seen in Washington and in other states that infusing the judicial selection process with politics has led to charges of bias and in some cases even corruption – charges that have threatened to undermine the integrity of the judiciary. We don’t need that sort of thing here.”
“Tennesseans of both parties should oppose the Lieutenant Governor’s plan to turn the selection of our next Supreme Court justice into a Washington-style political circus; they should demand that our next Supreme Court Justice be selected on the basis of his or her qualifications and experience, not his or her ability to pass a political litmus test cooked up by Lieutenant Governor Ramsey.”