Tennessee Judicial Selection, Amendment 2 (2014)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Amendment 2
Flag of Tennessee.png
Quick stats
Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Tennessee Constitution
Referred by:Tennessee State Legislature
Topic:State judiciary
Status:On the ballot

The Tennessee Judicial Selection, Amendment 2 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Tennessee as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would empower the governor to appoint judges to the supreme court and courts of appeal subject to confirmation by the general assembly. The appointed judge would serve an eight-year term. Thereafter, the judge could serve another term via a retention election by voters.[1]

The amendment was sponsored in the Tennessee Senate by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-31) and in the Tennessee House by State Representative Jon Lundberg (R-1) as SJR 2.[1][2]

In Tennessee, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment must earn a majority of those voting on the amendment and "a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor.”

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows:[3]

Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:

Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.
□ Yes
□ No[4]

Constitutional changes

2014 measures
Flag of Tennessee.png
November 4
Amendment 1
Amendment 2
Amendment 3
Amendment 4
Endorsements
Local measures

The proposed measure would amend Section 3 of Article VI of the Constitution of Tennessee to read:[5]

The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state. The Legislature shall have power to prescribe such rules as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of section two of this article. Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article. Every judge of the Supreme Court shall be thirty-five years of age, and shall before his election have been a resident of the state for five years. His term of service shall be eight years.[4]


Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee reads as follows:[6]

ESTIMATED FISCAL IMPACT:
Increase Local Expenditures – Up to $10,000/FY14-15*

Assumptions:

• The proposed constitutional amendment received the required constitutional majority vote with passage of Senate Joint Resolution 701 by the 107th General Assembly. The required publication was made on May 6, 2012.
• Following first passage by two successive General Assemblies, and pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment to the people at the next general election in which a Governor is to be chosen.
• Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-5-211(b) requires the county election commission to publish a sample ballot in a newspaper of general circulation or mail sample ballots to registered voters at least five days prior to early voting.
• The requirement to add this constitutional amendment to the 2014 general election ballot will increase the size of the sample ballot.
• Given the size of the sample ballot will increase, and because publishing costs are generally based on the number of words published or the number of document pages printed, local government expenditures are expected to increase.
• Based on information provided by the Secretary of State, the total statewide increase in local government expenditures is reasonably estimated as an amount up to $10,000 in FY14-15.[4]

Background

The Tennessee Constitution states, “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.” Since 1971, however, the state has had a merit-selection process for judiciaries. The Judicial Selection Committee has selected nominees for appellate courts starting in 1994. The governor then selects judges from those nominees and constituents vote whether or not to retain them. This arrangement has been known as the "Tennessee Plan." Amendment 2 would dismantle the Judicial Selection Committee.[7] The proposed arrangement is known as the "Modified Federal Plan."[8]

Support

Tennessee Yes on 2 logo 2014.jpg

The organization leading the campaign in support of the initiative is Vote Yes on 2.[9]

The measure was sponsored in the legislature by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-31) and Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-1).

Supporters

Officials

Former officials

Organizations

  • Tennessee Bar Association[15]
  • Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry[11]
  • Tennessee Business Roundtable[16]
  • Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation
  • Beacon Center of Tennessee
  • Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council
  • Tennessee Business Partnership
  • Tennessee Bankers Association
  • Fraternal Order of Police, Tennessee
  • Women’s Political Collaborative
  • Tennessee Hospital Association
  • Greater Memphis Chamber
  • League of Women Voters
  • Memphis Bar Association
  • Nashville Bar Association
  • Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
  • Kingsport Chamber of Commerce
  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Knoxville Chamber
  • Chattanooga Area Chamber
  • Chattanooga Bar Association

Arguments


Vote Yes on 2 video ad advocating for Amendment 2.

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R) co-wrote an op-ed outlining supporting arguments for Amendment 2:[11]

  • “A stable and impartial judiciary is vitally important to all of us. But in recent years, there have been numerous legal challenges to the way we in Tennessee select our appellate court judges. These continuing challenges, and the confusion they create, threaten to destabilize and weaken our judiciary and our state.”
  • “Passing Amendment #2 will put an end to the questions and will help ensure we get the most qualified, diverse, fair and impartial judges that Tennesseans want and deserve.”
  • "Amendment #2 gives Tennesseans three powerful votes in the selection of our appellate judges:
  1. By voting for the governor, who will make the appointments.
  2. By voting for our state senators and representatives, who will confirm or reject the appointments.
  3. By voting to keep or fire the judges at the end of their respective terms."
  • "Passing Amendment #2 will help keep the influence of special interest money away from our judges and out of our state."

Other arguments in favor of the amendment include:

  • Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) argued that contested elections for the judiciary would allow special and financial interests to become involved. He said, “Suddenly you get at the last minute somebody on there who’s promised to, I don’t know, stop all abortions or something like that. You get just a lot of outside money coming into elections. You can do that to a governor or to a congressman, but I think it’s particularly effective and dangerous with races that people are generally not interested in.”[10]
  • Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-31) suggested the nation’s founding figures developed a similar plan to the one proposed. He noted, “The people of Tennessee are not presently voting for judges in open contested elections. And the people of Tennessee have never been asked whether or not they favor following the judicial selection plan that our founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution came up with. Let’s give them the chance to vote on that.”[17]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

Organizations

  • Tennesseans for Independent Courts[18]
  • Justice at Stake[19]

Arguments

  • Bret Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, stated, “It is troubling that Tennessee legislators are pursuing a constitutional amendment that would inject partisan politics into the state’s judicial selection process. For many years, Tennesseans have benefited from a process for picking judges that focuses on  qualifications, not partisan politics. SJR 02 would replace the highly regarded ‘Tennessee Plan’ with a Washington-style system that gives the Governor unilateral authority to pick judges, and subjects confirmations to DC-style gridlock and backroom deals.”[19]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Tennessee Constitution

The Tennessee General Assembly was required to approve the amendment in two successive sessions. In the first session, the measure required a simple majority for approval. In the second session, the proposed amendment needed to earn a two-thirds vote for approval. SJR 2 was approved by the Tennessee Senate for a second time on February 21, 2013. SJR 2 was approved by the Tennessee House of Representatives for a second time on March 11, 2013.[2]

Senate vote

February 21, 2013 Senate vote

Tennessee SJR 2 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 29 93.55%
No26.45%

House vote

March 11, 2013 House vote

Tennessee SJR 2 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 74 84.09%
No1415.91%

See also

BallotpediaAvatar bigger.png
Suggest a link

External links

Basic information

Support

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tennessee General Assembly, "Bill Information for SJR0002," accessed January 23, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 KnoxNews, "House approves referendum on appointing judges, agrees to cut per diem," March 12, 2013
  3. Tennessee Secretary of State, "Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot," accessed June 12, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Tennessee Legislature, "Senate Joint Resolution 2," accessed January 23, 2014
  6. Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, "SJR 2 Fiscal Note," accessed April 16, 2014
  7. The Columbia Daily Herald, "Tennesseans to vote on abortion, tax and judicial selection amendments," January 5, 2014
  8. 'Nashville Post, "Bredesen, Slatery ask biz community to support appellate judge selection amendment," January 15, 2014
  9. Vote Yes on 2, "Homepage," accessed July 25, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The Tennessean, "Haslam, Bredesen join forces to preserve TN's judicial selection process," January 21, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 The Tennessean, "Vote Yes on 2 is best path for judicial selection," April 29, 2014
  12. Knoxville News Sentinel, "Political notebook: Alexander backs proposed amendments on Tennessee ballot," July 21, 2014
  13. Nashville Public Radio, "Judicial Selection May Be The One Thing These Tennessee Politicos Agree On," accessed April 30, 2014
  14. The Commercial Appeal, "Campaign for judicial constitutional amendment goes public Tuesday," April 28, 2014
  15. Knoxville Daily Sun, "Tennessee Bar Association backs constitutional amendment on judicial election," November 16, 2014
  16. Vote Yes on 2, "Endorsing Organizations," accessed July 25, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Nashville City Paper, "Senate OKs amending state constitution to change how judges are selected," February 21, 2013
  18. WatchDog.Org, "Tennessee groups fight over state elections of judges," February 4, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 Justice at Stake, "JAS: Proposed Amendment to Tennessee Constitution Would Politicize Judicial Selection," accessed March 11, 2013