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Politics

Tenn. voters to decide on judges' merit selection

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Thomas R Machnitzki
/
tn.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee voters begin casting ballots next week on whether to keep but modify the state's current method of selecting appeals judges and Supreme Court justices.

Under the current system, the governor makes appointments to fill vacancies on the state's top courts. Voters then decide whether to keep or replace them in uncontested retention elections. A proposed constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to reject the governor's nominees.

Opponents of the current system say the retention elections violate a provision in the Tennessee Constitution that says the judges "shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state."

Supporters like Republican Gov. Bill Haslam call the system a way to avoid overly political judicial elections.

Observers fear that failure of the amendment would plunge the state's judicial system in to uncertainty.