Why I Am Voting To Replace The 3 Supreme Court Justices

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I am a lawyer, and I am not afraid to publicly admit that I am voting to replace all three Tennessee Supreme Court justices.

The Tennessee judiciary was politicized in 1971. A year earlier, Winfield Dunn had become the first Republican governor elected in 50 years. The Democrat legislature feared that Republicans would soon begin to win statewide elections for Supreme Court, according to my friend John Jay Hooker, the Democrat nominee who lost to Governor Dunn. He says that was the reason statewide elections for Supreme Court were replaced with the Missouri Plan, in which a panel of 14 lawyers and three non-lawyers chose three nominees from which the governor appointed one. Because the state constitution still required an election, the legislature tacked on a "retain/replace" election at the end of each eight-year judicial term.  That is the election at hand this year.

I am voting to replace the Supreme Court in part for their role in ObamaCare. I passed a law this year prohibiting ObamaCare expansion in Tennessee. The Tennessee decision not to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare is possible only because 28 states joined the lawsuit against ObamaCare and won that issue in the U.S. Supreme Court. Tennessee did not join the lawsuit against ObamaCare because the Attorney General refused. Two of the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot tomorrow appointed our liberal Attorney General. I would prefer a conservative Supreme Court to appoint a conservative Attorney General who will fight for Tennesseans against federal government overreach.

 I am also voting to replace the Supreme Court justices because their judicial philosophy is out of step with the conservative values of Tennesseans. All three justices signed at least one of two opinions making it harder to dispose of frivolous lawsuits under Tennessee law than it is under federal law. These two decisions would lead to unnecessary, lengthy, and expensive trials even when the facts are not disputed. Thankfully, the General Assembly corrected this judicial overreach with two laws I sponsored.

 I fear another law I helped sponsor, Governor Haslam's Civil Justice Act of 2011, is in peril if all three justices are retained. That law is helping bring jobs to Tennessee by providing predictability in our courts. The law has replaced jackpot justice with certainty in damages that are hard to quantify like pain and suffering. Judges with liberal judicial philosophies in other states have struck down such laws using activist opinions similar to the two opinions I mentioned above. I fear that Governor Haslam's signature judicial reform may face the same fate in Tennessee.

 Our three Supreme Court justices are not bad jurists, but I trust Governor Haslam to appoint even better jurists if given the chance-- jurists that match his values. I will be voting to retain many of the governor's nominees for the intermediate courts of appeals. I applaud Governor Haslam's appointment to the Supreme Court of Justices Holly Kirby and Jeff Bivins. I want to give Governor Haslam the chance to appoint three more Supreme Court justices. That is why I am voting to replace.

 (State Senator Brian Kelsey represents Cordova, East Memphis, and Germantown and is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

Problems With Bike Lanes And The School System

Bike Lanes:  There was a notice in the paper that MLK Boulevard from Georgia Avenue to Central Avenue was being reduced from four lanes to three lanes so that bike lanes could be installed. After looking at a survey on the Chattanoogan.com that showed 98 percent of the people did not want this to happen, I am trying to understand why the people in the city were not given ... (click for more)

Trump Investigations Expose Democrat Corruption - And Response

The more President Trump is investigated, the more Democrat corruption is exposed.  Bob Bogart * * *  Mr. Bogart's letter shows the danger of consuming news "inside the bubble" as they call it.  Both sides are guilty of it, it's not really a left or right exclusive phenomenon.  When you're never exposed to "bad news" on our President then certainly ... (click for more)

Volkswagen To Build New 5-Passenger SUV In Chattanooga

Volkswagen officials announced Monday that they will build a new five-passenger SUV at the Chattanooga plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. Governor Bill Haslam was among those on hand for the announcement. It will be a variant of the seven-passenger Atlas that is already under production here. Like the Atlas, the new model will be designed and engineered for ... (click for more)

Some Schools Cancel Evening Activities As Storm Approaches; Area Faces Possibility Of Tornadoes, Large Hail

The National Weather Service is warning that a strong line of storms moving into the Chattanooga area on Monday could bring the possibility of tornadoes and large hail. In advance of the storm, some schools were canceling evening activities. Hamilton County Schools will have no evening activities. After-school childcare for school-age children will continue to operate until  ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Wins Wildcat Classic Again

Early season prep baseball tournaments are meant for a few things; primarily competition, repetition, and learning a few things about your team over the course of a few games.   The Ooltewah Owl baseball nine apparently has learned it likes collecting championship trophies in them as well.   For the second year in a row, the Owls won the longstanding ... (click for more)

Lady Vols Fall To Oregon State, 66-59, In 2nd Round Of NCAA's

KNOXVILLE-- Senior center Mercedes Russell logged her 46th career double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead Tennessee, but it wasn't enough as the No. 12/13 Lady Vols (25-8) fell to No. 13/12 Oregon State (25-7) in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Freshman Anastasia Hayes also had a double-digit outing for the No. 3 seed Lady Vols, posting ... (click for more)