A bill to directly elect Supreme Court justices in Tennessee has been delayed, but the lawmaker behind the push says it’s not dead. The Republican-led legislation conflicts with a proposal from Governor Bill Haslam, who wants to write the current judicial appointment process into the state constitution.
Governor Haslam has been urging members of the House Judiciary Committee not to advance Rep. Glen Casada’s bill. Debate has now been postponed until the final meeting of the session, and Casada says his proposal will change substantially between now and then.
The best argument against electing the Supreme Court is the expense of running statewide, Casada says.
“So what Rick Womick, out of Murfreesboro, proposed, that we cut the state up into five districts and have them run district-wide.”
The state Supreme Court would be made up of five justices elected geographically.
Casada says he’ll make another change to take lower courts out of the equation altogether.
“Under my amendment, that will be made, the appellates, who are not listed in the constitution, would continue to be an appointment by the governor.”
If Casada’s bill passes into law, the election of judges could take place as early as August of 2014, several months before the governor’s constitutional amendment would appear on the ballot.
The bill is HB 0173 Casada / SB 0127 Campfield.
Note that the amendments discussed by the sponsor, above, haven’t been added to the electronic files yet.