Countdown In Tennessee
April 7, 2009
With fewer than 90 days remaining before Tennessee’s judicial selection star chamber expires, legislators are beavering away on a reform package that can win enough votes to save the state’s “merit” selection system. The Tennessee Journal reports that House Republican Joe McCord is pushing legislation that would reduce the influence of legal special interest groups when it comes to picking members of the judicial selection commission. As Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has pointed out, “by law” at least 75 percent of the commissioners who decide who will control one-third of Tennessee’s state government are hand-picked by special interests like the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association. Under Rep. McCord’s bill, the House and Senate speakers would no longer be bound to pick from a list of special interest favorites.
Rep. McCord’s bill is a step in the right direction. The Nashville Post is reporting that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will be presenting another step of his own when he introduces legislation this week that would create a gubernatorial appointment and retention election system.
The best solution: restore democratic judicial elections as called for in Tennessee’s Constitution.