Retain Tennessee Supreme Court Justices

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I am writing to express my disgust with Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s effort to remove high-performing public servants from the Tennessee Supreme Court for purely political reasons. 

Why do I say high-performing?  Because these justices received excellent reviews from the very people Lt. Governor Ramsey appointed to perform such reviews.

So, then, what excuses does Ramsey give for our “need” to get rid of these high-performing public servants?  He first said that they’re bad for business and soft on crime. 

Bad for business?  Nationally, Tennessee ranked #2 in Business Competitive States in 2013 and #5 in Top Business Climate for 2013, and Tennessee was listed this month as one of the 10 most small business-friendly states in the nation.  As recently as June 2008, Tennessee was ranked as the #1 most business-friendly litigation climate in the nation.

Soft on crime?  The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed 20 of the last 21 death penalties imposed upon convicted criminals.  The lone exception was sending a case back to the trial court for re-sentencing due to concerns over inadequate representation and 8th Amendment restrictions on putting someone with limited capacity to death under U.S. Supreme Court precedent; that defendant was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. 

I guess Ramsey subscribes to the theory that you shouldn’t let facts get in the way of a good story, especially when the justices being attacked are ethically prohibited, at least partially, from responding. 

With neither of these attacks having a shred of merit, Ramsey has shifted grounds, saying now that he is concerned about how the justices might rule if tort reform measures are attacked in court.  Funny—in 2012 Ramsey was quoted as saying that “Tennessee deserves a quality judiciary with judges who adhere to the law[.]”  Now?  Ramsey says that “[e]very campaign tells half the story,” and is afraid to have the Tennessee Supreme Court rule on whether tort reform measures enacted by the legislature are sound constitutionally.  In other words, Ramsey wants to appoint justices with an agenda who will not adhere to the law but will instead do what he wants them to do, regardless of the law. 

Of course, we don’t really know if it is truly Ramsey’s agenda or instead is the agenda of some out-of-state special interest that wants to buy an election.  Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability, an organization supporting Ramsey’s efforts, won’t disclose the source(s) of their funding, fueling suspicions that “dark money” from out-of-state is secretly trying to influence the way Tennesseans vote.  Ramsey has already said he won’t be spending his own money on this campaign and has admitted to strong ties to national Republican organizations dealing with state legislative campaigns and attorneys general.  You do the math. 

Regardless of whose agenda it is, no Tennessean should have to walk into a courtroom on what is already likely to be one of the most stressful days of his or her life and have to worry about what a judge’s hidden agenda is.  Tennesseans want a judge who listens, makes fair factual findings, and applies the law accurately to the facts of the specific case.  Partisan politics should have no place in that process, which is why Republicans, Democrats, and independents are coming together to oppose Ramsey’s attempt to break what is currently in good working order. 

As a famous Tennessean, Andrew Jackson, once said, “All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.”  Ramsey’s assault on the Tennessee Supreme Court is nothing less than an attack on the separation of powers and system of checks and balances set up by both the Tennessee Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, and the only way he will get away with it is if Tennesseans aren’t paying attention. 

Please vote to retain the judges of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Aug. 7 (early voting begins July 18).

Christopher T. Varne

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Why To Vote Yes On Amendment One

I am still troubled about an editorial of several weeks ago on how women should not have to have government tell them what they can and can’t do with their own bodies.  Today I saw the advertisement being shown in Chattanooga.  There are so many untruths in it that I can’t just sit by and do nothing.   The editor was misinformed about what the Amendment One actually ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Chattanooga Police Department, And Community Members Reach Out To Group Members To End Violence

The city of Chattanooga held a call-in on Thursday night, as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative. Dozens of law enforcement officials, community members, social service providers and clergy gathered to deliver a message to over 20 members of violent groups in Chattanooga. Family members of the probationers watched the call-in from another building. Although the call-in was ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Claims Region 4A/AA Soccer Title

Junior Sofia Olenchek scored twice, including the winning goal in the second overtime (95th minute) period as host Notre Dame defeated crosstown rival Chattanooga Christian 2-1, for the Region 4 A-AA championship Thursday night. In a well-played, physical match, CCS led at halftime, 1-0,  after senior Hannah Henry scored in the 14th minute, but Olenchek's first goal ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Briarcrest For Shot At Father Ryan, DII-AA State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – OK, Father Ryan.  Baylor’s still hanging around. The Lady Red Raiders stormed past Briarcrest, 3-1, Thursday in the loser’s bracket final at Siegel Middle School and advanced to Friday’s Division II-AA volleyball tournament championship match. The set scores were 26-24, 25-15, 24-26, 25-15. The Lady Red Raiders lost to Father Ryan, ... (click for more)