Merit Selection Falls to Squabble, Legislature Adjourns for Year

Merit selection, considered by many to be the key feature of the successful Tennessee Plan, was eliminated from the process today when lawmakers could not, at the last minute, reach an accommodation on an unrelated squabble.

Three attempts to pass a bill to extend the life of the Judicial Nominating Commission in the House were stymied during the last day of the session. Since the constitutional power to fill vacancies is vested in the legislature, there will be no mechanism to appoint trial or appellate judges to replace jurists who die, retire or are removed.

Appellate judges will be evaluated by the present Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission before standing for election in August 2014. No changes in the composition or membership of that commission will come as a result of the inaction.

Some observers also saw developments early in the day on judicial redistricting (see related story) as part of the overall spat.

The legislature adjourned for the year this afternoon.

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