Monday, September 11, 2006

How Politics Are Played In Tennessee

How judges are selected to state supreme courts is certainly different in every state. Some judges are elected by popular vote. Others are appointed by the governor of the state and confirmed by the state legislature. In Tennessee, when there is a vacancy, the governor appoints someone to fill the vacancy and then at the next general election the citizens have the opportunity to vote to retain the appointed judge (and all other appellate court judges). However, the governor doesn't get to pick anyone he wants. He has to select from a panel of three submitted by a judicial selection committee.

In recent months we have had two vacancies on the Tennessee Supreme Court because of retirements. The first vacancy was filled quickly. The second has been a little more interesting. A friend of mine, Houston Gordon, was probably the first person to apply when the vacancy occurred. Houston is an excellent attorney from Covington, TN. His initial fame came from handling the appeal of Lt. William Calley regarding the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Houston was a JAG officer at the time. When he entered private practice he immediately established himself as a great trial lawyer and became politically active in the democratic party (are you surprised we're friends? I'll get to that in a minute). He ran for the U.S. Senate but lost to Fred Thompson. He counts among his friends none other than Al Gore and Bill Clinton. When I saw that Houston had applied for the supreme court appointment I assumed he was a shoe-in to get the appointment.

I've talked recently with Houston about the appointment and I won't divulge the content of our conversation. But I simply can't understand why Governor Bredesen (a fellow democrat and someone who Houston supported for governor) has refused to appoint Houston to this position. Houston was on the first panel submitted by the committee to the governor and the governor rejected all three. The governor said he wanted more "qualified minority candidates." So the committee submitted a new panel which included Houston, a former aide to republican governor (and current U.S. Senator) Lamar Alexander and a minority candidate whose credentials are less than stellar. Anyone see what is going on here? The governor's not going to appoint a republican and the minority candidate isn't supreme court material. It seems to me that the judicial selection committee is trying to force the governor into selecting Houston. And for some reason that escapes me the governor thinks that it is in his political best interest to not select Houston. It is interesting the politics that is being played and you can read about it in this link, this one and here.

I mentioned that Houston Gordon is a friend of mine even though we are on different sides of the political fence. I met Houston several years ago when we worked on a case together (the case lasted 6 years by the way) and I found him to be a Christian. I've never asked Houston where he stands on issues like abortion, gay rights, etc. but I believe he would be a great supreme court justice. If a republican can't get appointed to that position then a God-fearing democrat is the next best thing.

The race for the U.S. Senate between Bob Corker and the democratic candidate has also created some interesting political shananigans. A lawsuit regarding some environmental issues was conveniently filed recently and Bob Corker (former mayor of Chattanooga) was subpoenaed for a deposition. Corker asked for the deposition to be delayed until after the November 7 election but a judge said no. I have no doubt that the democrats are pushing for the deposition so that they can (1) disrupt Corker's campaign activities; and (2) hopefully find some campaign fodder.

You can see from these separate events that it is politics as usual in Tennessee.

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Blogger Kathy4Scuba said...

I'm glad that you realized that democrats can be Christians too. I've actually heard the comment that if you're a democrat, you can't be a Christian! Of course, I reply, look at Jimmy Carter. He's a democrat as well as a very strong Christian.

Just because I'm a democrat doesn't mean I'm pro choice. It just means that when I look at the overall political views of the two parties, I agree with the democrats more. It's sad to see what's happened especially since before the 2004 elections. I was almost made to feel that if I'm truly a Christian, I have to vote for Bush. I don't know of anywhere in the bible that it tells us how much a government should spend on the military. There's many other examples. What I really think is going on is Satan using the issue of political parties to bring discord within Christ's church.

7:42 PM  

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