One of Tennessee’s Supreme Court Justices is speaking in favor of Amendment 2 on the November ballot. It concerns the appointment of justices in our state.
Here’s the report from the Tennessean:
New Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeff Bivins threw his support behind Amendment 2 during remarks before the 74th annual Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation Presidents Conference on Thursday at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.
The amendment to the Tennessee Constitution states that the governor would appoint Tennessee appellate court judges, subject to legislative confirmation, and followed by retention elections. The question is one of four proposed amendments before voters statewide on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
“The primary reason for Amendment 2 is to bring stability, conclusion and finality to the process,” said Bivins.
In his support, Bivins said the amendment gives the public three votes on appellate court judge selection by allowing Tennessee residents to select the governor who will make the appointments, sending lawmakers to office who will confirm or deny the appointments and voting whether to retain judges at the end of their terms.
If the amendment isn’t passed, there could be 29 contested partisan races in the state open to influence from out-of-state campaign funding. Ethics laws prohibit sitting judges from stating their legal positions, which makes running for a seat difficult for candidates who can’t discuss the issues.
Without the “independence of the judiciary,” Tennessee faces “a much less fair and impartial system,” he said.
Bivins was a Court of Criminal Appeals judge for three years before Gov. Bill Haslam appointed him to replace Justice William C. Koch Jr., who retired July 15 from the state’s highest court.
Bivins’ support for Amendment 2 joins endorsements from political leaders, including Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as two former governors — Phil Bredesen and Winfield Dunn — and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.