News release from Vanderbilt University:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The end of the state Judicial Nominating Commission will not cause any hitches in the nomination of judges in Tennessee including a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, said a Vanderbilt Law School professor.
The state legislature is shutting down the commission June 30, and voters will not vote on the amendment outlining the new procedure to pick judges until next year.
Holder plans to retire Aug. 31, 2014. The Judicial Nominating Commission has been involved in presenting nominees to the governor for Supreme Court and appeals court vacancies.
“In my view, Tennessee law has been amended over the years to permit for the selection of appellate judges and interim trial judges to continue uninterrupted and with only minor changes from the status quo when the commission expires,” writes Brian T. Fitzpatrick, professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, in a paper for The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Sunsetting the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission: What Now?
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Memphis, Tenn. – After more than 17 years and many firsts, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder will make August 31, 2014, her last day with the state’s highest court.
Justice Holder announced that she is retiring at the end of her current term and will not seek re-election in the August 2014 judicial retention election. She notified Gov. Bill Haslam by letter today.
“It has been my privilege to serve the people of Tennessee as a trial judge and Supreme Court justice – and an honor to have been selected by my fellow justices as the first female chief justice in our state’s history,” Justice Holder said.
Justice Holder, the third woman to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court, was the first woman to serve as chief justice, a role she held from September 2008 through August 2010. During the Court’s current term, the position of chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court has rotated, each chief justice serving a two-year term.
State Sen. Janice Bowling of Tullahoma will not be removed as a member of the Republican State Executive Committee after all.
She had been more or less automatically removed earlier for missing three consecutive meetings of the Executive Committee, according to state GOP Chairman Chris Devaney. But Bowling disputed the contention (Previous post HERE) and party officials have accepted her point.
Devaney’s letter to Executive Committee members explaining the situation is below.
Recently elected state Sen. Janice Bowling is fighting her removal from the Tennessee Republican Party’s executive committee for having missed three consecutive meetings, reports Andy Sher. State Republicans said the removal was automatic after Bowling missed a Dec. 1 executive committee meeting. The Tullahoma lawmaker said that while she was unable to attend called committee meetings in March and June, she thought she had avoided a problem by securing “valid proxy” for purposes of constituting a quorum and voting.
Bowling said she participated in at least one, possibly two, party meetings conducted by telephone following the March and June meetings. She contends she didn’t miss three “consecutive” meetings.
She said she missed last week’s meeting because of a secondary infection due to a “severe allergic reaction.” She said she ran a high fever and had to be treated with antibiotics. Bowling, who was elected Nov. 6 to represent District 16, said she suspects the cause of her illness was black mold in her assigned Senate office.
…State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney has said automatic removal is in the bylaws.
But Bowling wrote to him with her arguments about the proxies and the telephone meetings.
After speaking with her, Devaney said, “we are currently looking into her interpretation [of the rules] and will not move forward with the process of filling the vacant position set forth in our bylaws until the matter has been thoroughly reviewed.”
Elected to the state Senate in November, Republican Janice Bowling, of Tullahoma, automatically lost her position on the GOP’s State Executive Committee after missing her third consecutive meeting over the weekend, reports the Chattanooga TFP. On Saturday, GOP Chairman Chris Devaney told executive committee members the move was required by the party’s bylaws, attendees said. The state GOP’s political director, Michael Sullivan, on Monday confirmed Bowling had been removed.
“This is all just standard operating procedures according the bylaws of the state party and was in no way a removal of office for any other reason than the automatic trigger of three consecutive absences,” Sullivan said.
Efforts to reach Bowling on Monday were unsuccessful. The removal from the Republican State Executive Committee does not affect her status as an elected senator….A panel has been named to recommend a replacement at the committee’s next meeting.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects the question of using taxpayer dollars to fund private school vouchers will be a major issue in the General Assembly come January, reports Andy Sher. But the horses already are out of the barn in several Southeast Tennessee legislative races where a full-fledged debate over vouchers is under way.
Some Republicans argue vouchers are necessary to advance school-choice initiatives already under way with public charter schools.
Democrats counter that any redirection of funding undermines support of public education, which they say is already too little.
Republican Rep. Richard Floyd, whose District 27 includes Red Bank and Signal Mountain, fully supports vouchers.
“Anything that we can do to give these kids a better shot at getting a better education we need to try,” Floyd said. “It may not work. If it doesn’t, we can come back and reinvent the wheel.”
Frank Eaton, Floyd’s Democratic opponent, has serious reservations about vouchers.
“I don’t think they’re in general a great idea,” Eaton said. “If our public schools were properly funded, we wouldn’t be faced with so many failing schools. We need to focus on making sure there’s a good public school available for every child.”
…House District 30, Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, said the state “should explore some ways to include some vouchers and hopefully do so without making a large impact on the school systems.”
It would be “far better to have a pilot project than to go statewide with it right off the bat,” said Dean. State officials could use a pilot program to evaluate vouchers’ effectiveness.
His Democratic opponent, Sandy Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, said a voucher program is “taking more money away from public education.”
…Fault lines on vouchers often cut along partisan lines. But a number of Republicans in rural areas are lukewarm on the issue.
In the seven-county Senate District 16 contest, which includes Marion, Sequatchie and Coffee counties, Democrat Jim Lewis, of Kimball, is staunchly anti-voucher. Vouchers and any number of education initiatives passed or proposed by the Republican-led General Assembly amount to “outright theft from public schools,” he said.
“We haven’t funded public schools adequately in the first place, and if your design is to destroy public schools, then you find a way to suck more money out of them,” said Lewis, a former state senator.
Republican Janice Bowling, his opponent, is a former teacher who home-schooled one of her children for several years. Vouchers and other education initiatives often spring from “perfectly noble ideas and hopes,” she said, but end up as “kind of knee-jerk, ‘we’ll do this and this to fix it,'” responses, Bowling said.
“I haven’t had the opportunity [to look into vouchers] to see what the unintended consequences might be or what the benefits would be. I can see both sides.”