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VOL. 129 | NO. 153 | Thursday, August 07, 2014

Supreme Court Justices Rally in Court Square

By Bill Dries

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The three Tennessee Supreme Court justices on the Thursday, Aug. 4, ballot spent the day before the election campaigning in Memphis for retention.

Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee are countering a well-financed campaign by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and others, urging voters to vote against retaining the three justices.

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade, left, speaks to state Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis at an election eve rally in Court Square Wednesday, Aug. 6.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

The results has been an unprecedented campaign in races that usually attract little attention from voters and even less in the way of campaigning from the justices.

In Court Square Wednesday afternoon, the justices drew support from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen as well as state Rep. Larry Miller.

Clark described the campaign season as “tumultuous” and “historic.” She, Lee and Wade each said the opposition to their retention is an attempt to introduce politics into the judiciary.

Ramsey, meanwhile, has contributed $425,000 from his political action committee for TV ads airing across the state in the campaign to defeat all three justices. The Republican State Leadership Committee has also spent approximately $400,000 in the opposition campaign.

Wade, Lee and Clark together have reported raising almost $800,000 in a campaign in which they have countered the claims in the opposition ads about their records as false.

Ramsey has said the selection of the justices is already political since it is by appointment of the governor.

A proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution on the November ballot would keep the retention system of elections and appointments by the governor. But the provision would require that the governor’s nomination of an appellate court judge be approved by the Tennessee Legislature – a method similar to the appointment of federal judges by the U.S. president and confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

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