State Senator Brian Kelsey has been the force behind Amendment 2 on the November ballot. “It has to do with how we select our judges. What we’re doing now is blatantly unconstitutional,” Kelsey said at our Tuesday Midtown Republican Club meeting. Our state constitution says that they shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.
“When I became senator (after the resignation of Paul Stanley), we followed the same rules laid out in the Constitution, except where it says ‘state’ it said ‘district.’ Retention elections (our current method) was not even mentioned. We should draw upon our Founding Fathers, do away with the judicial committee and have confirmation by the Legislature. We need to fix the language.”
So here’s the amendment he sponsored and how it reads on the ballot:
Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:
Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty 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. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.
“I call it the Founding Fathers Plus plan,” Kelsey said. “We will have a 60 day rule to confirm them, vs. DC which sits on them; we will either approve or reject; and we still keep their eight year terms.
The opposition to this measure “favors the Jacksonian Democrat system over the Founding Fathers’. They wrongfully believe that if Amendment 2 failed they could pass contested elections through the legislature over the opposition of both speakers and the governor, who would all rather resurrect the Nominating Commission we’ve worked so hard to kill. If contested elections were somehow miraculously implemented as they want, that would allow Democrats to regain a majority of judgeships in Tennessee through elections funded by trial lawyers just like the one in August was,” Kelsey warns.
The fourth ballot amendment empowers the legislature to permit lotteries for events that benefit 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organizations. Kelsey said he has mixed feelings about it. “If you’re for gambling vote ‘yes.’ If not, vote ‘no,'” he said.
The other item outside the amendments is the wine in grocery stores issue. It will be at the bottom of the ballot.
“The unincorporated areas that did not get enough signatures for it will not be able to vote on it,” said Kelsey. “A simple majority will see it passed,” he said, explaining that on the amendments a skipped vote will register as a no, but not here. “If it passes it will be enacted in 2016, but we may be able to bump that date up.” Kelsey doesn’t see liquor being sold in grocery stores for a long time as Tennesseans are not used to the idea yet.