Friday, May 4, 2012

Tennessee Judicial Reform Activist Split on Governor Haslams's Long Term Plan to Select Judges

From Eagle Forum newsletter:
 Constitutional Amendments - AMENDMENT #2 rewrites this joint resolution to replace Article VI, Section 3 of the state constitution, which requires that the judges of the supreme court must be elected by the qualified voters of the state, to require that judges of the supreme court or any intermediate appellate court be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the sole discretion of the governor based on merit; must be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, must be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default will occur if the general assembly fails to reject an appointee within 60 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. This amendment authorizes the general assembly to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out the appointment, confirmation and retention of appellate court judges.
STATUS:  On third and final consideration, April 23rd,SJR710 passed the Senate Floor 22-9.
Senators voting aye were: Barnes, Beavers, Bell, Crowe, Faulk, Finney L, Ford, Gresham, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Norris, Overbey, Roberts, Southerland, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 22.
Senators voting no were: Berke, Burks, Campfield, Haynes, Henry, Herron, Kyle, Marrero, Stewart -- 9.
On Thursday, SJR710 passed the House floor on 70-27-1. 
NOTE:  As with all proposed Constitutional Amendments, SJR710 will have to be brought back after the next election to the 108th General Assembly where the exact language will have to pass by a 2/3rds vote then go on the ballot at the next gubentorial election where it must pass by 50%+1 of the votes cast in the governor's race.
Janice Johnson is Opposed to Governor Haslam's Plan: The Tennessee Constitution clearly states that the Justices of  the Supreme Court and all lower courts should be elected (not selected by a bunch of lawyers as has been the process for filling vacancies on the Appellate and Supreme Court for the past 41 years).  This legislation is attempting to change the Constitution to allow for the current process of selecting judges to be made “constitutional” by submitting a ballot initiative in 2014.  In order to amend the Constitution, a SJR 710 has to pass two consecutive legislative sessions.  Then, the  proposed Constitutional amendment will go on the next ballot for a referendum (voted by the people) to amend (or to not to amend) the Constitution.
If SJR 710 passes again in the next legislative session (by a required 2/3rds vote).  We the people will have the opportunity to vote (ratify) away our right to vote for our Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges forever.  The lobbyist for the judges are well funded by taxpayer dollars, trial lawyers and big business.  The trial lawyers and big business have a lot at stake and will most certainly fund the propaganda campaign to convince us that “merit selection” (read: trust the lawyers to choose our judges for us) is in our best  interest. 
That same year, 2014, the Supreme Court and Appellate Court Justices will also come up for a retention (yes or no) vote.  A retention vote (‘yes’ or ‘no’) is not an election.  As David Barton pointed out, retention elections usually result in lifetime appointments because the people are so clueless they usually vote “yes” instead of “no” to retain the judges in judicial retention elections.  I ALWAYS vote “NO”.   A retention election is not the same as a general election as specified in the Constitution (see below).  So, in 2014, we will have the same unconstitutionally appointed judges up for a retention vote and will most likely be serving for another eight years, leaving the status quo (mostly Democrats) in place until 2022, unless, of course they retire or are removed in between time.
Sharyn Bovat is Supporting Governor Haslam’s Plan: 
Bill Haslam is the first Governor that has "tried" to make the courts align with the constitution and realistically change does not happen overnight, at least he has a plan. as long as the people that live in Tennessee have a voice (they do with a state wide ballot initiative) - it's OK. Yes Janice is right about the state not honoring the constitution: What Tennessee has been doing for 41+ years is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and if people took that literally then ALL criminals in jail should be released.

What matters to Sharyn is how the COJ oversight is monitored. ALL she wants are ethical judges who have open minds: Cronyism happens with elected judges too.
Judicial Department.
Section 1. The judicial power of this State shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such Circuit, Chancery and other inferior Courts as the Legislature shall from time to time, ordain and establish; in the Judges thereof, and in Justices of the Peace. The Legislature may also vest such jurisdiction in Corporation Courts as may be deemed necessary. Courts to be holden by Justices of the Peace may also be established. 
Section 2. The Supreme Court shall consist of five Judges, of whom not more than two shall reside in any one of the grand divisions of the State. The Judges shall designate one of their own number who shall preside as Chief Justice. The concurrence of three of the Judges shall in every case be necessary to a decision. The jurisdiction of this Court shall be appellate only, under such restrictions and regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by law; but it may possess such other jurisdiction as is now conferred by law on the present Supreme Court. Said Court shall be held at Knoxville, Nashville and Jackson.  (Who makes the law? The Representatives of the people, the General Assembly.  Who sets the jurisdiction of the courts?  The General Assembly.)
Section 3. 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. 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
Section 4. The Judges of the Circuit and Chancery Courts, and of other inferior Courts, shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district or circuit to which they are to be assigned. Every Judge of such Courts shall be thirty years of age, and shall before his election, have been a resident of the State for five years, and of the circuit or district one year. His term of service shall be eight years.

No comments:

Post a Comment