Tennessee: legislature comes to agreement on how to confirm appellate judges; one-chamber rejection system is unique

I mentioned that the Tennessee legislature was unable to agree on a bill as to how to confirm appellate judges in the state. Earlier today, however, the House agreed to a plan that will now go to the governor (h/t to Brenda Gadd from the Tennessee Bar who posted a comment on this).

SB 1 has three key elements:

The House and Senate will meet jointly but with votes tabulated separately. The (99 member) House had at one point wanted a joint vote, which could have meant that chamber overwhelming the (33 member) Senate.

There are four possible scenarios contemplated in SB 1.

  1. Confirmation: both houses vote to CONFIRM the appointee by a majority of all the members to which each house is entitled (50/99 House, 17/33 Senate).
  2. Two-chamber rejection: both houses vote to REJECT the appointee by a majority of all the members to which each house is entitled (50 House, 17 Senate).
  3. One-chamber rejection: a majority of one house votes to confirm, but two-thirds of the other body votes to reject. Thus 66 House members or 22 Senate members can scuttle a nomination.
  4. No action, 60 day clock runs: If the votes do not result in a confirmation, two-chamber rejection, or one-chamber rejection, nothing happens. There can be a revote or, if no action takes place within 60 days, the nominee is confirmed by default.

The system for confirmation is very unique: only 6 states involve both chambers in confirmations (or reconfirmations) and none have a one-chamber rejection with 2/3rds vote provision.

SB 1 now goes to the governor for his signature.