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Vanderbilt University Law School

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Constitutional Law

Judges-selection and appointment

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Election As Appointment: The Tennessee Plan Reconsidered, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2008

Election As Appointment: The Tennessee Plan Reconsidered, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Tennessee's merit system for selecting judges - referred to as the Tennessee Plan - has been controversial ever since it was enacted in 1971 to replace contested elections. The greatest controversy has been whether the Plan is even constitutional. The Tennessee constitution states that all judges "shall be elected by the qualified voters" of the state. Yet, under the Tennessee Plan, the governor appoints all appellate judges, and those judges come before the voters only after a period of time on the bench and only in uncontested yes-no retention referenda. In 1977, the people of Tennessee were asked to amend …


Errors, Omissions, And The Tennessee Plan, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2008

Errors, Omissions, And The Tennessee Plan, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In the Spring 2008 issue of the Tennessee Law Review, I wrote an essay questioning whether Tennessee's merit system for selecting appellate judges - the Tennessee Plan - satisfies the requirements of the Tennessee Constitution. The Tennessee Constitution requires all judges to be elected by the qualified voters of the state, yet, under the Plan, all appellate judges are initially selected by gubernatorial appointment and then retained in uncontested referenda. I argued that both the appointment and retention features of the Plan are unconstitutional, and I recommended that the legislature refuse to reauthorize the Plan when it expires in June …