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Statement in Support of the Founders' Judicial Selection Plan Tennessee Constitutional Amendment

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:13 PM


NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Meaningful and beneficial judicial selection reform is advancing in Tennessee. The 108th Tennessee General Assembly is considering a resolution to amend the state Constitution to implement the Founders' Plan (also known as the Modified Federal Plan) method of selecting the state's twenty-nine appellate judges, including the five justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Last month, the resolution passed the Tennessee Senate by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 29-2. The House version of the resolution (HJR 8) is scheduled to be voted on by the Tennessee House of Representatives on Monday, March 11, 2013. If the resolution passes by the required 2/3 majority, Tennessee voters will have the opportunity to approve the amendment on the November 2014 General Election ballot.

Today, Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity released the following statement:

"Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity joins Governor Haslam in strong support of the proposed Constitutional Amendment to adopt the Founders' Plan for selecting the twenty-nine judges of Tennessee's appellate courts.

America's Founders realized that a highly-qualified, just, and impartial judiciary was an essential part of democracy, and established a system in the United States Constitution to achieve that result through a series of checks and balances upon and between branches of government.

The Founders' Plan is an outstanding method for selecting Tennessee's appellate judges. It:

  • Fosters a highly-qualified, just, and impartial judiciary
  • Provides clarity and a long-term solution to the constitutional controversy over the current plan
  • Checks and balances the powers of the governor, legislature, and judiciary – just as the Founders intended
  • Ensures transparency and democratic accountability by requiring appellate judges to be appointed by the elected governor and confirmed by elected legislators
  • Promotes judicial accountability by preserving the voters' power to decide in a yes/no retention election whether an appellate judge may serve another term, and
  • Preserves judicial independence and the stability of the law by keeping the current eight-year judicial terms

We strongly support the Founders' Plan Amendment and urge all legislators to vote in favor of the Amendment this year, and all Tennessee voters to approve the Amendment in 2014.

Ammon Smartt and Grant Everett Starrett, Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity"

Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity (TEO) is a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to fostering economic opportunity for all Tennesseans by developing and supporting public policies such as the rule of law, just & impartial courts, economic freedom, government accountability, and individual liberty.

About the Founders' Plan Amendment

The Founders' Plan involves a three step process for the selection of appellate judges:
(1) Governor appoints;
(2) Legislature confirms; and
(3) Voters retain in a yes/no retention election.

To avoid gridlock, if the legislature fails to confirm or veto the Governor's appointment within sixty days, then the appointment is automatically confirmed. Judicial terms are currently eight years and will not be changed by the Amendment.

Last year, the General Assembly approved the Founders' Plan amendment resolution by a bi-partisan 2/3 supermajority vote in step 1 of the amendment process. If the resolution (known as Senate Joint Resolution 2 in the Senate, and House Joint Resolution 8 in the House) is passed this session by a 2/3 vote, step 2 will be complete. To complete the third and final step, the voters must approve the amendment in the November 2014 general election.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Civic organizations representing broad swathes of Tennesseans have expressed support for the Founders' Plan Amendment.(1)

Americans for Prosperity -Tennessee
"AFP-TN supports limited, constitutional government and want a judiciary that reflects those values .... find your state Representative and state Senator – tell them you want an accountable judiciary in Tennessee. You support SJR 710. Thus, we support a judicial selection process that models the federal constitution. We believe Tennessee's judges should be appointed by the Governor, based on merit, and be held accountable to the people through requiring confirmation from the General Assembly." http://americansforprosperity.org/tennessee/newsroom/041012-fight-judicial-restraint-tennessee/

Beacon Center for Tennessee
"The General Assembly should take steps to amend the Tennessee Constitution to reflect a new method for choosing state judges .... Such a revised federal model would ensure that judges remain neutral and independent while maintaining accountability in the judicial system." (p. 66 of their Legislators' Guide) -- http://www.beacontn.org/wp-content/uploads/108th-Legislators-Guide-to-the-Issues.pdf

Eagle Forum of Tennessee
"If we are going to go through the complicated amending process, I think what would be good for the state and a great compromise between the two positions is a modified federal plan."
http://www.tneagleforum.org/custpage.cfm/frm/112854/sec_id/112854

Family Action of Tennessee
"[We] encourage our state legislators to stand up for greater accountability in judicial selection... to the model set forth by our Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution"
http://www.tneagleforum.org/custpage.cfm/frm/112854/sec_id/112854

Judicial Crisis Network
"[T]his amendment is the best way to unite various factions that have been fighting over judicial selection in Tennessee .... Some have strong preference for [the current so-called Tennessee plan]…. others have strong preference for contested judicial elections .... But many members of both factions are supportive of the federal method of selection .... [It is a] principled and politically prudent path for conservatives who value ideas that animated the framing of the U.S. Constitution. The so-called "Founders' Plan" ... is a very reasonable compromise that would establish a respectable method of judicial selection that rests on a sound constitutional foundation.
http://www.judicialnetwork.com/tennessee-senate-votes-on-judicial-selection-amendment-today/

Nashville Chamber of Commerce
2013 State Legislative agenda: "Support the proposed modification for appointment and retention of the state's appellate judges ..."
http://www.nashvillechamber.com/Libraries/PDFs/legislative_agenda_state_2013.sflb.ashx

Tennessee Business Roundtable
"We agree with remarks made by Governor Haslam in his State of the State address on this issue and firmly believe the General Assembly should promptly pass the proposed constitutional amendment regarding judicial selection, SJR 2/HJR8. The amendment provides clarity and finality to concerns that have been raised about the current system. The proposed constitutional amendment maintains the Governor's responsibility to appoint appellate court judges, while giving the people a voice through the General Assembly confirmation process and subsequent retention elections."
See joint statement with Tennesseans for Fair & Impartial Courts.

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
"This morning the State Senate overwhelming approved by 2/3 majority one constitutional amendment supported by the Tennessee Chamber. Senate Joint Resolution 0002…"
See Chamber's 2-21-13 newsletter

Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity

Tennesseans for Fair & Impartial Courts
"We agree with remarks made by Governor Haslam in his State of the State address on this issue and firmly believe the General Assembly should promptly pass the proposed constitutional amendment regarding judicial selection, SJR 2/HJR8. The amendment provides clarity and finality to concerns that have been raised about the current system. The proposed constitutional amendment maintains the Governor's responsibility to appoint appellate court judges, while giving the people a voice through the General Assembly confirmation process and subsequent retention elections."
See joint statement issued with Tennessee Business Roundtable

(1)The amendment is sometimes referred to as the Founders' Plan or by the resolution numbers assigned to the amendment in the 107th and 108th Tennessee General Assembly (SJR 710, and SJR 2 & HJR 8, respectively).

For copies of full statements please contact:
Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity Press Contacts:
Ammon Smartt: 615-481-9009 or Ammon.Smartt@gmail.com
Grant Everett Starrett: 615-943-7676 or Grant.Starrett@gmail.com

SOURCE Tennesseans for Economic Opportunity

(Source: PR Newswire )
(Source: Quotemedia)

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