TNSupremeCourt-sliderAmendment 2 is on the November 4th ballot and it determines how we elect our state Supreme Court judges in Tennessee.

Basics of Amendment 2

Article VI, Section 3 of the state constitution provides that “The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.” The legislature has the power to decide how to handle appointment or election to the intermediate Court of Appeals.

Beginning in 1995, our state went away from contested direct election of judges to our state Supreme Court and intermediate Court of Appeals to a merit-selection process for judges. Under this process, a Judicial Selection Committee selected judicial nominees for presentation to the governor, who then made an appointment to the court from among that pool of nominees. Prior to the next general election following the appointment, a Judicial Evaluation Commission evaluated whether a judge should be allowed to run on a retention election ballot. If approved to so run, then the citizens voted on whether to retain or replace those judges.

Amendment 2 would remove from the constitution the language of Article VI, Section 3 requiring that Supreme Court judges “be elected by the qualified voters of the state” and would empower our governor to nominate judges to the state supreme court or other state appellate courts, subject to the power of the state House and Senate to reject the nominee within a prescribed period of time. If not rejected, the nominated judge would then serve for eight years. After that, the appointed judge could serve additional eight-year terms through a retention election by voters.