Suit Challenges Method For Selecting State Supreme Court Justices

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research and its President, Drew Johnson, have filed suit in federal district court in Nashville alleging that Tennessee’s method of selecting appellate court judges is unconstitutional.

If the suit is successful, Tennessee’s voters may regain their constitutional right to popularly elect State Supreme Court Justices.

Tennessee’s current judicial appointment scheme, known as the “Tennessee Plan for Judicial Selection and Evaluation,” allegedly violates several provisions of the State Constitution, including Art. VI, Sec. 3, which states that “the judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.”

Under the Tennessee Plan, politically appointed members of the Judicial Selection Commission present the governor with a slate of candidates for vacant judicial seats. After the governor appoints a judge from the slate, the judge is re-selected every eight years through a retention election system that offers Tennessee voters no other candidates from which to choose, it was stated.

The suit, brought on behalf of the nonprofit, free market think tank and its president by Nashville attorney Bob DeLaney, seeks to obtain an order declaring that the popular election of members of the Supreme Court of Tennessee and the intermediate appellate courts, is required by the Tennessee Constitution.

“Tennessee’s Supreme Court Justices are sworn to uphold the Constitution and decide cases based on their understanding of the document,” said Mr. Johnson. “Ironically, if the Tennessee Plan is held unconstitutional, the justices of this state’s Supreme Court are being selected in violation of the very document they are sworn to uphold.”

Mr. Johnson said he chose to file the case in federal court because he said the Tennessee Plan, if found to violate voting rights granted under the State Constitution, would also violate the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the plaintiffs claim.

The suit also requests a temporary restraining order to prevent the Judicial Selection Commission from nominating candidates until the case goes to court.

The Judicial Selection Commission is scheduled to meet Friday to nominate a slate of candidates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of former Chief Justice A.A. Birch.

To view the complaint, visit:

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Shot In The Face Near O'Rear Street Identified As Entwadina Phillips, 20

A woman who is in critical condition after she was shot while driving in Chattanooga on Saturday night has been identified as 20-year-old Entwadina Phillips . Just after  9 p.m. , the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a person shot. Once on the scene, police located a female victim near the 2500 block of O'Rear Street suffering from a life-threatening ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here are the latest booking report from Hamilton County: BARRERA, ANTHONY DANIEL  8148 IRISH RD CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 23 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga HARASSMENT THEFT OF PROPERTY UNDER 500 --- BERRY, COREY NISSAN  505 ROYAL CREST DR RED BANK, 37343  Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank DRIVING ... (click for more)

City Council Travesty

  City Council just voted for a seven-story downtown building in a district zoned for 48' height limit. Setback to the building behind will be 6'. This is to allow the current building owner access to their property to maintain it. What I do not understand is how in the fire district this proposed building is in can a parking deck seven stories tall not have alley access ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Heard About Henley?

Within minutes after a woman posing as “Katie Brown” posted a picture of her dog with its mouth taped shut on Facebook last Friday morning, hundreds of thousands of people became part of a global witch-hunt. Her Facebook page listed her location in South Daytona Beach and Avon, Conn. But police officers at both locations found out her real name is Katharine F. Lemansky and on Monday ... (click for more)

Jones Leads Walker Valley Past Baylor, 67-50

The Baylor Red Raiders played their first basketball game of the season on Tuesday night in the friendly confines of Jimmy Duke Arena, but they came out on the short end of a 67-50 verdict against the Walker Valley Mustangs. With only two days of practice under their belts involving everyone including football players, there are still a bunch of unanswered questions, but on a ... (click for more)

Vol AD Hart Says Bowl Talks Have "Accelerated"

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, football coach Butch Jones and men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes took part in a press conference on Tuesday. Athletic director Dave Hart, football coach Butch Jones and men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes took part in the question and answer session. Here are the edited highlights involving Hart and Jones. ... (click for more)