Tennessee bill would end judicial review of all statutes, but loophole might allow Court of Appeals & Court of Criminal Appeals to hear such cases

A Tennessee legislator is attempting to do by simple statute what New Hampshire legislators are attempting to do by state constitutional amendment, namely, ending judicial review of state statutes.

Under SB 2348 as introduced, the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, and Criminal Courts “shall have no jurisdiction to determine the constitutionality of a statute which has been properly enacted by the general assembly and become law in accordance with Article II, § 18 and Article III, § 18 of the Tennessee constitution.” A similar provision applies against the state’s Chancery Courts.

The bill is curious for two reasons.

First is the question of whether or not a mere statute can strip the courts of the power of judicial review (as noted, the New Hampshire parallel would be a state constitutional amendment).

The second is that while the state’s highest court (Supreme) and general jurisdiction trial courts (Circuit, Criminal, Chancery) are cited by name, the state’s intermediate appellate courts (Court of Appeals on the civil side and the Court of Criminal Appeals) are not.

For example, the change to the Supreme Court would be an amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 16-3-201 which discusses the supreme court’s jurisdiction in general. Similarly cited are Section 16-10-101 (Circuit and Criminal Court – General Jurisdiction) and Section 4-5-225 (providing review of the validity or applicability of a statute lies in a suit for a declaratory judgment in the chancery court of Davidson County, unless otherwise specifically provided by statute.)

Missing are any changes to the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals (16-4-108) and the Court of Criminal Appeals (16-5-108).

In addition, absolutely no mention is made of the state’s other courts (General Sessions, Probate, Juvenile, and Municipal).


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