Tennessee Lawmaker Gets An Easy Ride At Judicial Confirmation Hearing | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Lawmaker Gets An Easy Ride At Judicial Confirmation Hearing

Nov 1, 2017

A high-ranking Tennessee lawmaker is a step closer to joining the federal bench.

The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate took up the nomination of state Sen. Mark Norris, a Memphis Republican and the majority leader in the Tennessee Senate. Norris is up for a district court judgeship in West Tennessee.

But he did not get much of a grilling. The only topic senators probed the conservative lawmaker on was his history of opposing same-sex marriage.

Norris assured the panel that he now sees that question as settled by the 2015 Obergefell decision, which threw out Tennessee's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. And while he added the courts could have a role in related questions, like how Tennessee's marriage code should be read if state lawmakers continue not to update it, Norris promised not to legislate from the bench.

"I know, having served as a legislator, as an advocate for constituents and as an attorney, an advocate for clients, the importance that the courts not be a public policy-making body," he said.

MORE: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing

Norris was one of four nominees for the bench before the committee. Senators spent most of their time on one — an appeals court nominee from Nebraska who's been described by the ABA as "not qualified" based on his past rulings.

Norris, on the other hand, seems to have a smooth path to confirmation. His nomination is opposed some by some progressive groups. But he has the backing of the ABA, as well as Tennessee senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander.