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

Roy Exum: Navy Denies Any Charges

UPDATE: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy on Sunday denied reports that disciplinary charges will be filed against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for discharging an unauthorized weapon on federal property.   According to a post of Facebook and other social media sites, a statement reads, “Stories of Navy personnel being charges with an offense are not true. There is still a long way ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Is A Blessed Community

I am an American by birth and a Chattanoogan by the Grace of God. (A phrase I borrowed from the late Lewis Grizzard and modified) I grew up in Chattanooga / East Ridge – Anna B. Lacey Elementary, Dalewood Junior High, Brainerd High, degree UTC.  My family lived in Chattanooga until March of this year but I’m still up every month visiting friends.   I have been following ... (click for more)

$40 Million Traffic Improvement Set To Connect Hamilton Place More Directly With I-75 And Ease Congestion On Shallowford Road

The city, state and CBL & Associates are cooperating on a $40 million plan to make the Hamilton Place section more accessible to Interstate 75. The upcoming project will provide a direct connection for southbound I-75 traffic with Hamilton Place Boulevard. The project will also provide a new connection for those on Hamilton Place Boulevard to enter I-75 northbound. ... (click for more)

Owners Of Trucking Firm Involved In Tragic Wreck At Ooltewah Exit Ask That Cases Be Moved To Federal Court

The owners of a Kentucky trucking firm involved in a wreck in which six people were killed at the Ooltewah exit of I-75 on June 25 are asking that lawsuits in the matter be handled in Federal Court. Cool Runnings Express owners Billy and Cretty Sizemore are asking that the initial suit brought by Ryan Humphries of Cleveland, Tn., be moved from Hamilton County Circuit Court. ... (click for more)

CFC Returns To National Championship With 3-0 Semifinal Win

The Chattanooga Football Club didn't score until the 69th minute but after Chris Ochieng's first goal, they would score two more to earn a 3-0 win over visiting Indiana Fire.   The NPSL national semifinal win, before more than 9,200 fans, gives Chattanooga another shot at a national championship after losing to the New York Red Bulls U23 team in the 2014 final.   ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Chattanooga FC Shuts Out Indiana By 3-Nil