Government Affairs Update

Follow the TBA's efforts to influence federal and state policy as it fulfills one of the core missions of the association – advocacy for the profession and for our system of justice.

Opinion: Tenn. Plan a National Model, Don't Change It

In an opinion piece in the Tennessean today, American Bar Association President William T. 'Bill' Robinson explains how Tennessee's system for selecting appellate court judges, the Tennessee Plan, is nationally respected as "an open process that is as free from political influence as possible." He warns that a proposed constitutional amendment would change the system "for the worse" and would "politicize the courts and diminish the perception of appellate judges as fair, impartial and well-qualified." The proposed amendment allows the governor to appoint judges who have gone through no public screening process, with no assurance that a broad candidate pool had been considered, he points out, saying "it is critical for courts to be insulated from undue political influence."

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Editorial: State Should Stop Trying to Pass Immigration Legislation

In an editorial, the Commercial Appeal says the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week in the Arizona immigration law case "should send a message to Tennessee's legislators that they should stop trying to pass similar legislation."

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Cooper Staffer Seeks to Replace Arriola

While a handful of names have been bandied about as potential successors to Davidson County clerk John Arriola, the one getting the most play so far is that of Brenda Wynn, a fixture in Nashville government and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office, according to the Tennessean’s In Session Blog. Wynn is vying for the temporary appointment by the Metro Council in August, and said she would run for the Democratic nomination when voters elect the clerk on a more permanent basis in November. Wynn was the first director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods under then-Mayor Bill Purcell and has been Cooper’s director of community outreach since he took office in 2003.

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Editorial: Attorney-Client Privilege Trumps Public's Right to Know

Tennessee’s Open Meetings Law requires all public business to be conducted in the sunshine, but in an editorial today, the Daily News Journal discusses why the attorney-client privilege is an exception to that. The paper agrees that meetings with counsel should be in private, but cautions as to what topics should and should not be covered behind closed doors.

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Field for Hawk's Seat Increases After Domestic Charges

Two of the three candidates opposing state Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, in this summer's Republican primary acknowledge they had no plans to enter the contest until the incumbent was charged with domestic assault on his wife. Hawk's primary opponents are attorneys Duncan Cave, Bradley Mercer and Ted Hensley, a county commissioner and real estate broker. The News Sentinel has more

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Hurley Reelection Site Redirects to Opponent

The website for the reelection of state Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, sends visitors instead to the website of Kent Calfee, her opponent in the August Republican primary. Both candidates said they were unaware of the website redirect until informed Friday by the News Sentinel. Hurley promptly cast blame on Calfee and his supporters, but Calfee says he was unaware and that apparently the website registration was not maintained. "I would assume that if you're holding office and you had a website, you would maintain the control of it," he said.

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Shipley Starts Campaign for 3rd Term

Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley kicked off his re-election bid for a third term in office Thursday night with testimonials from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, other state lawmakers and local officials, according to the Kingsport Times News. Shipley, R-Kingsport, is again seeking the 2nd House District seat in the GOP primary and faces a challenge from former Kingsport Alderman Ben Mallicote.

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High Court Declines to Review Residency Dispute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Shelley Breeding, who wanted to run for Knox County's new seat in the state House but was ruled ineligible because her home is just outside the district, WATE reports.

Settlement Reached in Voter Files Case

A spokesman for Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins say they both welcome a settlement reached last week in a legal dispute involving state voter files. Tennessee Democratic Party officials say their data experts found full or partial voter histories missing for about 11,000 state-maintained voter files they obtained last month. The assertions were introduced in federal court Friday in a lawsuit filed by Democrats and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who was turned away from the polls in the March primary. U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp requested both sides agree to a proposed consent decree, which they did Friday night. It will be submitted to the court this week. The Times Free Press reports

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Candidate to Take Appeal to Supreme Court

Shelley Breeding will ask the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear the residency issue that is keeping her off a Democrat primary ballot for the new 89th House District seat. Breeding has disputed the accuracy of maps that show part of her residential lot, including her house, are in Anderson County, while her driveway and mailbox are in Knox County, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.