The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced a fourth judicial selection plan with yesterday’s passage of SJR 710 as amended.
Last week saw the Judiciary Committee approve with amendments SJR 475, creating a quasi-federal judicial selection system. (SB 127 and SJR 183, other judicial selection bills, were advanced in last year’s session and remain active).
SJR 710, like SJR 475 creates a quasi-federal system and uses almost identical language.
Each judge of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be initially selected via merit-based gubernatorial appointment from a panel of qualified candidates submitted by a nominating commission; shall be legislatively confirmed; and, thereafter, contingent upon a satisfactory job performance evaluation, shall be subject to retention election by the qualified voters of the state. The Legislature shall prescribe such rules as may be necessary to implement sections two and three of this article. Each such judge shall be at least thirty-five years of age and shall have been a resident of the state for the five-year period immediately preceding appointment. The term of service shall be eight years.
According to the author (the amendment is not online yet) the committee approved amendment makes SJR 475 different from SJR 710 in two ways
- SJR 475 gives the legislature 60 days to confirm a judicial nominee, otherwise the individual is automatically confirmed
- SJR 475 provides the judge seeking to remain in office is subject to retention election only (vs. SJR 710 which would require reappointment by the governor, reconfirmation by the legislature, and retention election).
The video from the hearing indicates the bill advanced on a 5-2-2 vote.
Meanwhile, a similar judicial selection plan is on the agenda today for the Tennessee House Finance, Ways & Means Committee, General Subcommittee.
HJR 753 uses the same wording as the pre-amended SJR 710 and was approved by House Judiciary Committee 3/20/12.