Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tennessee Voters Amend Constitution to Adopt Legislative Confirmation of Appellate Judges

Tennessee voted 61 to 39 last month.  This is the culmination of a long effort to reform a strange situation in which the state constitution required all judges to be elected, yet, appellate judges were selected by a nominating commission system, which was then changed to a different nominating commission system.  Finally, now the constitution has been amended to a "federal model" system in which the legislature confirms the governor's nominee.

The new constitutional provision in Article VI, Section 3 reads:

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.

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