State Swears in First Women Chief Justice

The Tennessee Supreme Court officially has a new chief justice. Janice Holder was sworn in today after 12 years on the court. She is the first woman in Tennessee to serve at the top post.

Martha Daughtrey, who is a federal judge and a pioneer for women on the bench, says not so long ago, you could count on one hand the number of women judges in the state. At judicial conferences, Daughtrey says they would share meals together.

“And when the men came by with sort of raised eyebrows, one of us would announce spontaneously before they could ask, and say yes, this is a conspiracy.”

Chief Justice Holder noted the historical significance. Tennessee joins 20 states with women chief justices. But she also used her swearing in to advocate for the current form of appointing judges to the state courts. That plan expires in less than a year.

“We can be vocal about how we do not want to have partisan judicial elections for appellate judges.”

Holder says the five-member Supreme Court believes the current selection process produces the most qualified judges. The new chief justice presides for the first time tomorrow when the court convenes in Knoxville.

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