Friday, January 27, 2012

Judicial selection is not a sexy subject but ...

Governor Haslam weighed in this week on an issue only lawyers and nerds watch, joining top GOP leaders on the side of democracy instead of politics.  Tennessee's merit-based appellate judicial selection process is up for review and is set to sunset on June 30, 2012. It has been recognized for bringing qualified, diverse people to the high court bench - people not required to raise money and campaign, who run on an issue or simply win a ballot based on name recognition. He supports an amendment to our state constitution that will allow voters to ratify our current practice as our standard, that is if the amendment is approved on a popular vote.

Some legislators question if this is just a back door way to bring on popular election of judges . Let's hope not. It's not hard to imagine a PAC-funded advertising campaign that targets voters who don't care much or know the issue, trying to sway them with inflammatory, manipulative messages. That is becoming common practice these days. I am hopeful that with leadership and education we can put this issue to rest this way. Crafting policy with sunset provisions can be good and bad.  

Opportunities for general public education are out there, and I'm attending one next week to learn more. Now comes the press release:  The League of Women Voters of Nashville is hosting Guilford (“Gif”) F. Thornton, Jr., a Nashville-based attorney with Adams and Reese, as guest speaker for its February First Friday luncheon on Friday, February 3 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, on Tennessee’s judicial selection practices. First Friday luncheons are held to provide information about League priorities in public policy.

Thornton is legislative counsel to businesses, trade associations, and governmental entities with interests before the Tennessee General Assembly and serves on the board of the Tennessee Business Roundtable. He will discuss recent and pending legislative developments in this area and why preserving merit-based selection is important to ensuring a fair, competent, and impartial judicial system in Tennessee.

The program is open to the public and held at Second Harvest Martin Distribution Center in Metro Center. Second Harvest’s Friday Lunch Buffet is $12 per person or you can bring your own lunch. People do. Reservations to are advised but not required. For additional information, contact Vickie Ziegler at or call 297-7134.  Y'all come.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 90 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

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