Early voting has started in Tennessee . One of the measures on the ballot is a change to Tennessee’s constitution. Currently , Tennessee’s constitution requires that all Supreme Court Justices shall be elected. When the amendment on judges was written in  1870 , big money from out of state was not around to influence elections . In 1971 , the state legislature passed the Tennessee plan which has withstood constitutional attacks. In an effort to clarify the issue , Amendment 2 is on the ballot this November.

The amendment reads as follows:

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.

 In Sunday’s Tennessean , Governor Haslam and Governor Bredesen issued a joint article urging the passage of Amendment 2 . Amendment 2 is endorsed by a wide range of groups from the Tennessee Bar Association to Farm Bureau Insurance. Tennessean writer Frank Daniels III takes the opposite approach in it is denying the voters right to elect the judges.

I don’t like Amendment 2 but it is the lessor of two evils. A general election of the Supreme Court opens the floodgate of special interest groups spending obscene amounts of money to influence Tennessee judicial decisions. While Amendment 2 allows the executive branch and legislative branch to pick our appellate courts and Supreme Court.

Where do you stand ? Please post a comment here. All comments will be posted .