“Carpetbaggers” and outside $ in the Tenn. State Supreme Court retention elections

This, from NYTimes today, some analysis on the state supreme court retention elections. Check it out. This reminds me of what super-rich Koch brothers pulled off in N.C. when they pushed over a few races to the conservative-Republican-Tea Party side of things.:

In Tennessee, governors appoint Supreme Court justices with the assistance of a nominating commission. Those justices are subject to retention elections soon after they join the court, as well as public votes at the end of every eight-year term. Contests seldom include active campaigning and only once in Tennessee since 1994, when the system was expanded to apply to the Supreme Court, have voters forced a justice from the bench.

Critics of the three justices accuse them of limiting the rights of crime victims and antagonizing business.

Some of the complaints are linked to the court’s decision in 2006 to appoint Robert E. Cooper Jr., a Democrat, as state attorney general. In Tennessee, the court appoints the attorney general, who then serves for eight years. Critics of the justices argue that because the court selected Mr. Cooper, it bears some responsibility for his decisions, like one not to join a lawsuit challenging the federal health law. But the justices’ supporters note that the court has not issued an opinion in a case focused on the Affordable Care Act.

Justice Clark said the attacks on the justices rested on stretches in logic, as well as opinions that have been stripped of context. But she said she recognized the challenge of connecting with voters who know little about the court.

“The issues we talk about are not made-for-media issues,” she said after campaigning in Smithville, the seat of rural DeKalb County. “They are not 30-second sound-bite issues. They require a lot of discussions, sometimes arcane discussions.”

Mr. Ramsey’s office did not respond to interview requests, but one leading outside group defended its decision to participate in the election here.

Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has spent at least $196,000 to oppose the justices, said: “This is an issue that has percolated out of Tennessee and will be resolved by Tennessee. Our goal is simply to provide as much information as we possibly can.”

In addition to television ads, direct-mail pieces have also flooded Tennessee. One paid for by Mr. Walter’s group, which argued that the justices “are too liberal and do not share our Tennessee values,” landed recently in the Nashville mailbox of Lew Conner, a veteran donor to Republican campaigns in Tennessee who once sat on the State Court of Appeals. Mr. Conner said the literature had an effect that was the opposite of what was intended.

“I kind of look at it like they’re carpetbaggers,” Mr. Conner said of the outside groups opposing the sitting justices. “Why do they have to come in and tell us in Tennessee how to elect our judiciary?”

He added, “It’s the harbinger of perhaps the new American politics: being able to say and do anything and get away with it if you have the Yankee dollar, the almighty Yankee dollar.”


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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