Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Business Groups Across Tennessee Support Amendment 2

Press Release, Nashville, Tenn. – Top business organizations from across the state are urging their members and supporters to Vote YES on 2 this November.

 Amendment 2, the second of four proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November , brings greater clarity and accountability to the way we select the state’s appellate court judges so we get the fair and impartial judges that Tennesseans want and need.

“Our ability to attract and keep businesses in our state relies in part on having a stable , fair and impartial judiciary,” said Clay Thompson, Chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce &Industry, and President of Caterpillar Financial Insurance Services in Nashville . “Amendment 2 gives voters the chance to put an end to the legal challenges the current process has faced which threatens to destabilize our judiciary and weaken our state.”

Amendment 2 keeps the best parts of our current system by continuing to have the Governor appoint the most qualified persons as appellate judges, while adding a new layer of accountability by having our elected representatives in the legislature confirm or reject the Governor’s appointees . Most importantly, Amendment 2 protects the right of Tennesseans to vote to retain or replace the judges at the end of their respective terms.

“Tennessean’s want fair and impartial judges held accountable to the people,” said Gary Shorb, President of the Tennessee Business Roundtable, and CEO of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis. “We think Amendment 2 strikes the right balance in meeting that test. We encourage all Tennessee businesses to work in support of it.”

Some of the state’s major business organizations already working in support of Amendment 2 include:

•  Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
• Tennessee Business Roundtable
• Tennessee Bankers Association
• Tennessee Hospital Association
• Tennessee Business Partnership
• Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
• Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce
• Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
• Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
• Knoxville Chamber of Commerce
• Kingsport Chamber of Commerce

Amendment 2 has also been endorsed by a diverse and bipartisan group of top leaders from across the state , including Governor Bill Haslam, former Governor Phil Bredesen, former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, former Governor Winfield Dunn, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, former U . S . Attorney General Albert o Gonzales, large bipartisan majorities in the State House and Senate who voted to place the amendment on the ballot, as well as other leading organizations including the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, League of Women Voters, Fraternal Order of Police, Tennessee Bar Association, and the Women’s Political Collaborative.

Election Day is November 4, 2014, and early voting begins October 15, 2014. For more information, visit VoteYES2.org.

My Comment: I am in favor of all four proposed amendments. Some conservatives are opposed to amendment two because they are angry because they believe we are not currently following the Tennessee Constitution that says appellate judges shall be elected. Currently the governor appoints a judge from a panel of three submitted by a judicial selection committee. The judges serve a period of eight years then stand for a retention election.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a retention election is an election.  I think the Supreme Court is wrong. I am sure when the writers of our constitution said judges would be elected they did not intend that election to be a retention election. Some opponents of amendment two see a vote for the amendment as a capitulation. I understand that.  However, I think on its merits, the proposed amendment two is a superior method of selecting judges. It mirrors the way federal appellate judges are appointed. It improves our current system by requiring a governor's appointee be confirmed by the legislature.  If amendment two fails, we will not start having contested elections for appellate judges. If amendment two fails, nothing changes.

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