In what it called "likely a first in Tennessee political history," the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) has released the findings of its Judicial Candidate Voter Guide.
Sen. David Fowler, FACT president, said, "In Tennessee, judicial offices only go on the ballot once every eight years giving voters very limited opportunities to have input into the judiciary. Moreover, appellate judges, like the members of the state Supreme Court, are filled by gubernatorial appointment and are not even subject to opposition in the election, only up and down retention votes.
"Although candidate surveys are fairly common in races for seats in the legislature or executive branches of government, they are not for the judiciary where the views of judges have traditionally been insulated from scrutiny by the electorate. In the past when judges understood the appropriate role of the courts, this may have been appropriate, but in recent years we have seen an increase in activist judges legislating from the bench making scrutiny by the voters more important than previously."
Sen. Fowler stated, "In doing this survey we were not surprised to find some judges and judicial candidates reluctant to tell voters their judicial philosophy. However, it was more than a little disappointing to find that fully half of the candidates didn't respond at all - they did not even acknowledge the desire of the voters to know the very candidates asking for their vote. Not even acknowledging the survey is disrespectful of those citizens who want to cast an informed vote. We do, however, appreciate those who acknowledge the survey by letter, a number of whom provided some information that will be helpful to citizens who desire to be informed. Nevertheless, we are disappointed that even the most general questions pertaining to political or judicial philosophy were not answered, leaving voters the cumbersome task of deciphering this information from a collection of letters. The people deserve more respect and a better response from those who seek to sit in judgment over them."
Sen. Fowler said the voter guide was being distributed by email on Thursday to approximately 220,000 email addresses in the state thanks to cooperation by other organizations including Tennessee Right to Life and Focus on the Family. He said he anticipates the distribution could be exponential as the results are forwarded from private email accounts.
See the "Judicial Candidate Voter Guide" at www.FACTN.org in the News section at the bottom of the home page.