KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A longtime Knoxville lawyer and the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association has been nominated by President Barack Obama to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The White House announced Thursday that Obama had nominated Pamela L. Reeves for the post. The Knoxville News Sentinel said if confirmed by the Senate, Reeves would replace U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who retires this summer.
Reeves graduated from the University of Tennessee’s George C. Taylor College of Law in 1979 and received her bachelor’s with highest honors from UT in 1976.
She has been with the law firm of Reeves, Herbert & Anderson in Knoxville since 2002.
Reeves was bar association president from 1998 to 1999.
State legislators would pick nominees for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats under a bill approved by a state Senate committee with unanimous Republican support on Tuesday.
The bill by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, calls for the House and Senate Republican Caucuses, meeting jointly, to choose the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic caucuses, in turn, would select the Democratic nominee.
The new system would not take effect until after the 2014 general election, meaning U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander would face reelection under the current system of voters picking nominees in contested primary elections. But if the bill (SB471) passes, senators would be chosen by the new process.
The bill (SB471) was appoved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee with all seven Republican members backing it. One Democrat, Sen. Reginald Tate of Memphis, voted no and the other Democratic member abstained.
Niceley noted that, prior to passage of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913, state legislators directly picked U.S. senators. Senators have since been chosen by popular election, but Niceley said that Constitution does not say how candidates for the Senate must be chosen.
Most states have contested primaries for the Republican and Democratic nominations, but some have party caucus meetings instead. Under his plan, which Niceley said originated with the Goldwater Institute, legislators would basically act as a caucus picking nominees.
“That gets us back about half of what we lost in 1913, maybe a little bit more,” said Niceley.
He said “everybody agrees that Washington is broke” and his proposal is a step toward repair, selecting candidates while bypassing the Washington network of fundraising and lobbyists.
“This is sort of jerking their chain (in Washington),” he said. “If we don’t have the nerve to do this, we don’t deserve to be sitting here.”
— UPDATE: The bill cleared its first hurdle in the House, the State Government Subcommittee, on a voice vote Wednesday with Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, as sponsor.
Angering Tennessee’s two Republican senators, President Barack Obama again wants Senate consideration of energy efficiency expert Marilyn Brown for a full term on the TVA board of directors, reports Paul Barton of Gannett’s Washington bureau. The nomination, sent to Capitol Hill Thursday night, comes more than two months after Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker used Senate procedures to block Obama’s previous attempt to appoint her to a six-year term.
Brown, who came to the board in 2010 to fill out the a vacated term and served through the end of 2012, is widely recognized for her expertise in energy efficiency and other “sustainable” energy policies. She teaches in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy after formerly working for the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“This is another example of the Obama White House not listening,” Alexander said in a statement Friday.
“I told the White House in advance that the TVA board needs a nominee with a better understanding of the relationship between low electricity rates and better jobs in the Tennessee Valley. The Senate now has the responsibility to exercise its constitutional role of advice and consent on the nominee.”
Corker was even more critical.
“TVA needs leaders who enthusiastically support the mission of producing economical electricity and have an abiding appreciation of its important economic development role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents,” he said.
“Unfortunately, during my discussions with Dr. Brown, it was clear she does not share that point of view.”
The state Democratic Party has nominated three people to fill a vacancy on the Registry of Election Finance board and Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to pick one of them to serve by the end of September, officials said Thursday.
The new member could bring the board up to its allotted six members by the panel’s next meeting on Oct. 23, when hearings are scheduled on whether civil penalties should be levied against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and businessman Andrew Miller in separate pending cases.
Under the relevant state law designed to assure the board is bipartisan, the governor appoints two members – one from a list of nominees submitted by state Republican Party Executive Committee and the other from a list submitted by the state Democratic Party Executive Committee. The other seats are filled by appointments made by legislative caucuses – two for Democrats and two for Republicans.
The Democratic Executive Committee seat has been vacant since April of 2011. Brandon Puttbrese, the the party’s communications director, said no one at the party knew of the vacancy until a reporter asked about it last month.
Chairman Chip Forrester then consulted with executive committee members, inviting all to submit names of potential nominees, compiled a list of about 15 persons and then met with committee officers to come up with the three nominees and got concurrence on them in a telephone conference call, Puttbrese said. The procedure avoided a wait until the next full meeting of the executive committee, Sept. 29.
“We were pretty concerned about having someone there for these important things that are coming up,” said Puttbrese.
The nominees are Sarah Lodge Tally, a Nashville attorney; Norma Lester, a member of the Shelby County Election Commission; and Stacey Garrett, also a Nashville attorney.
David Smith, spokesman for Haslam, said the governor’s office has received the list and the governor expects to make a choice “by the end of the month.”
After appointment, a new member is required to go through a training session at the state attorney general’s office on campaign finance law and Registry procedures, said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said such sessions typically take two to four hours, depending on what the new member already knows about the subject.
Nashville, Tenn. – The Judicial Nominating Commission met in Nashville today to interview the ten applicants for the vacancy on the Court of Criminal Appeals created by the impending retirement of Judge David H. Welles.
After holding a public hearing and an interview for each applicant, the Judicial Nominating Commission has recommended the following three candidates to Governor Bill Haslam: Jeffrey S. Bivins
Circuit Court Judge, 21st Judicial District
Franklin, Tenn. Jeffrey Allen DeVasher
Assistant Public Defender
Office of the Metropolitan Public Defender
Nashville, Tenn. Mark A. Fulks
Senior Counsel and Appellate Team Leader
Office of the Attorney General & Reporter
The governor may now appoint one of these candidates or request a new slate of candidates from the Judicial Nominating Commission.