published Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Ramsey offers Supreme Court justices deal on elections

NASHVILLE — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has made Tennessee Supreme Court justices an offer on judicial elections he hopes they can’t refuse.

Ramsey revealed Thursday that he has told Chief Justice Cornelia Clark that he and and other Republicans will drop their bill requiring competitive elections for top judges if justices support a constitutional amendment enshrining the present merit-selection plan.

Currently, top judges under statute are appointed by the governor and later run on a referendum retention ballot in which Tennesseans cast yes or not votes on whether to keep the jurists.

Ramsey and other conservative Republicans argue the system is unconstitutional, although variations of the plan have been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1973 and a special Supreme Court in the 1990s.

Serious opposition began when justices serving in 2000 declared women had a fundamental right to an abortion under the state Constitution.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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