Tag Archives: Rick Womick

Womick seeks AG opinion on Durham investigation

State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, has asked Attorney General Herbert Slatery for a formal legal opinion on the propriety of an investigation into alleged sexual harassment by state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin.

Womick’s request comes after the appearance of a Breitbart News article questioning the investigation’s legal basis as well as reporting comments from some persons interviewed suggesting the Slatery-led investigation is a fishing expedition. (Previous post HERE.)

Text of the Womick letter to Slatery requesting his opinion is available by clicking on this link: womickletter

Anti-abortion bills on ultrasound, fetal tissue withdrawn

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday withdrew two anti-abortion bills, reports the Times-Free Press. One sought to require a woman to have an ultrasound before she could undergo the procedure and the other barred the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses.

No explanations were given for taking the ultrasound bill, sponsored by Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, and the fetal tissue bill, sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Gray, off notice.

Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, said the organization wasn’t backing either one and had swung its support to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislation to regulate abortion clinics, as well as tissue donations.

The pro-life group has said it supports legislation that isn’t likely to spur a federal lawsuit.

Tennessee Planned Parenthood officials say their facilities do not engage in tissue donation for medical purposes.

Controversies over the use of fetal tissue and organs for medical purposes exploded last year. That was when the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, released portions of secretly recorded videos. They purported to show a national Planned Parenthood official discussing with CMP members, who posed as researchers, the procurement of fetal tissues for medical purposes.

The video appeared to show Planned Parenthood affiliates seeking to profit from fetal tissue transfers. But Planned Parenthood officials charged the video was selectively edited and falsely portrayed abortion clinics charging fees beyond legally permissible tissue donation costs like transportation.

Rep. Womick won’t seek reelection; endorses political ally

State Rep. Rick Womick tells the Daily News Journal he will retire after his two-year term ends this year and will not seek reelection, reports the Daily News Journal. He’s endorsing a successor against an already-announced challenger.

“First and foremost, I want to spend more time with my wife and my children,” the Republican lawmaker said during a Monday phone interview. “My parents are also getting older. I just need to be spending more time with my family. And, secondly, I need to step aside and let somebody else serve.”

Womick resides in Rutherford County’s Rockvale community southwest of Murfreesboro and has represented Tennessee House District 34 since winning the seat in 2010 to succeed former state Rep. Donna Rowland, a fellow Republican who retired that year.

…”It’s time for me to step aside and let somebody else serve,” said Womick, who made news in 2015 by suggesting that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam be impeached for not challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that made same-sex marriage legal.

…When it comes to his successor, Womick said he supports fellow Republican Tim Rudd to be the next Republican to serve District 34.

“Tim’s a good conservative, and I know what he believes in,” Womick said. “He will fill my shoes very well.”

Rudd served as Womick’s campaign manager for an initial unsuccessful run in 2008 as the Republican nominee against former Democratic state Rep. Kent Coleman of Murfreesboro. Rudd also served as a campaign consultant for Womick’s successful elections in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Note: Murfreesboro attorney Jimmy Turner had previously declared his candidacy for the seat, saying he would run whether Womick or Rudd was his opponent.
Previous post HERE.

Womick proposes ending state marriage licenses

A state House “task force” has come up with no recommendation on what, if anything, the Legislature should do to oppose a U.S. Supreme Court decision that authorized gay marriage, reports the Daily News Journal.

But Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, has an idea: Get the state out of the marriage license business entirely.

Although supporters of marriage equality rights for gay couples celebrated the high court’s June ruling, Womick said during a Tuesday phone interview that Tennessee should revert back to being a common-law state on marriage and stop issuing licenses for couples to wed.

“That would take the state out of the marriage business altogether,” said Womick, who last summer suggested Republican Gov. Bill Haslam be impeached for not taking a stand in opposition to the high-court ruling and urged the state’s 95 county clerks in a letter not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. “I think that’s probably the best approach given the legal climate.”

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Republican from Nashville, appointed a task force that includes state Rep. Mike Carter to examine how to respond to the court ruling, and the group will soon meet again on the issue, said Carter, a Republican from Ooltewah in the Hamilton County in the Chattanooga area.

“We’ve been meeting for months,” Carter said during a Saturday phone interview. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have no idea on which way it’s heading.”

Nationally recognized authorities on constitutional law are involved in informing states how to respond to the court’s ruling, Carter said.

Womick, Carter and many other Republican lawmakers contend that the five justices in the majority of the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote overstepped the judicial branch’s authority with the ruling that made gay marriage legal throughout the country.

“This is a state-sovereignty issue,” Womick said. “They have no business ruling on it to begin with. What we have up there is an oligarchy of five individuals declaring their will on the rest of the country.”

If the state decided to stop issuing marriage licenses, people would still be able to go to church to obtain marriage certificates, Womick said.

“It used to be that way until after the Civil War,” Womick said.

Womick says jailed KY clerk broke no law

Note: A federal judge order a Kentucky clerk to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. State Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockdale, who has been urging Tennessee court clerks to do the same, issued the news release below on the same day. An AP story on the Kentucky situation is below it.

News release from Rep. Rick Womick
NASHVILLE – Representative Rick Womick stands along side Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis and Governor Mike Huckabee in asking the questions, “Under what law, federal or state, are our county clerks issuing homosexual couples marriage licenses? What federal law would Tennessee county clerks be violating if they did not issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples? Under what federal law would they be prosecuted and held in contempt for violating if they did not issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples?”

The answer, which has eluded our Governor and our State Attorney General, is simple; there is not one!

Once again, I call on all Tennessee County Clerks to uphold the only written law regarding same sex marriage, that being Tennessee Code Annotated, and the Tennessee State Constitution. To immediately stop issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples; anything less is a violation of their oath of office.

Additionally, I call on Governor Haslam and Attorney General Slatery to defend and uphold the actions of all Tennessee County Clerks who do not issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. I call on both of them as well to uphold their oath to the Tennessee State Constitution and to recognize that marriage is only between one man and one woman, since there is no law, federal or state, purporting otherwise.

Note: The emailed Womick news release includes a link to an article on GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee making similar statements, HERE. Continue reading

Sunday column: A TN trio of Trump-like politicians

While Donald Trump gains national attention with controversial conservative commentary in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, a fellow political junkie contends there is an informal competition underway among state legislators who would like to be known as the Trump of Tennessee.

Current summer sensation nominees are Republican state Reps. Andy Holt of Dresden, Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and Rep. Rick Womick of Rockvale.

Now, these gentlemen are not billionaires or TV celebrities. But in Trump-like fashion, they have seized on attention-getting national controversies and offered public remarks that appeal to the GOP’s right wing — and to Democrats, who love to quote them as examples of Republican extremism. As astute politicians, they have tailored their comments to Tennessee. So has state Democratic Chair Mary Mancini in news releases denouncing them.

Establishment/moderate Republicans, typified in Tennessee by Gov. Bill Haslam, are left in a hand-wringing mode, uncertain how to respond. Absent the confrontational situations posed by a presidential campaign requiring some sort of response, mostly they choose to ignore the aspiring Tennessee Trumps and hope they’ll go away — a perhaps doubtful proposition.
Continue reading

Womick to county clerks: Ignore AG; no gay marriage licenses

In a letter to Tennessee county clerks, state Rep. Rick Womick is urging they refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, rejecting advice Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to the contrary.

“It has come to my attention that most, if not all of you, have been contacted by AG Herbert Slatery and the Haslam Administration, and have been told to uphold the SCOTUS opinion or face a discrimination lawsuit,” wrote Womick, R-Rockvale.

“Such intimidation from this administration is unconstitutional and should not be tolerated. Each of you are publicly elected servants of your county. You swore an oath to uphold the Tennessee State Constitution and to enforce the Tennessee Code Annotated. You did not take an oath to uphold an ‘opinion’ from from five justices of the SCOTUS.

“Therefore, I am asking each of you to ignore the recent SCOTUS opinion redefining marriage, uphold our State Constitution, and issue marriage certificates to one man and one woman only,” the letter says.

In a brief telephone interview, Womick said he has had “lot of positive feedback, especially from citizens and constituents” and “a few” clerks – though none have yet told him flatly that they will honor his request.

In response to a request for comment on Womick’s letter, Harlow Sumerford, spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, sent this email:

“Our legal advice remains unchanged and that is to comply with the Supreme Court ruling.”

(Note: A statement from the Tennessee ACLU is below. Spokespersons for Haslam had not responded to emailed requests for comment at the time of this posting, which will be updated should they do so.)

Womick previously has called for impeachment of Haslam for his acceptance of the Supreme Court ruling, though without any positive feedback from fellow legislators in that case.

The letter to clerks says that Haslam “has absolute authority and power” under the state and federal constitutions to “ignore” the Supreme Court opinion but has “decided to shirk his duty to the citizens of the state of Tennessee.”

“I have made my choice. I will stand for our Republic and I will rebel and fight against all who support this oligarchy of judicial tyranny! I hope you will do the same in each of your counties,” Womick wrote.

Full text of the letter to clerks is available by clicking on this link: Letter from State Rep 34th Dist

Here is a statement from Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee:
“Representative Womick’s letter is an irresponsible abuse of his position. The U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell made it clear that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution. Governor Haslam and Attorney General Slatery were right to uphold the law by ensuring that government offices in Tennessee implemented the Supreme Court’s ruling. Representative Womick’s grandstanding encourages county clerks to violate the Constitution, potentially exposing them to litigation should they heed his misleading opinions.”

Zero support for Womick’s call to impeach Haslam

Senate Democratic Leader Lee Harris tells The Tennessean that Republicans should consider censuring state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, for suggesting that Gov. Bill Haslam be impeached. Republican leaders aren’t suggesting that – but they’re not backing Womick in his impeachment idea, either.

Haslam shouldn’t be impeached and GOP leaders need to take action against Womick for his comments, argued Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis.

“In some cases, it is clear to me that disciplinary action is called for, including perhaps censure,” Harris said after a meeting with The Tennessean editorial board.

“Because some of these comments are made in their official capacity, and we’ve got to tighten up. The Republican leadership has got to tighten up.”

The court didn’t make the right decision, in House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada’s opinion. But the Franklin Republican doesn’t think any of his fellow GOP lawmakers support Womick’s impeachment idea.

“The governor’s done a good job; I support the governor wholly. I think that representative is by himself,” Casada said.

In a statement from a spokeswoman, House Speaker Beth Harwell echoed Casada’s comments that Haslam shouldn’t be impeached. She does believe members have the right to express themselves though: Both Harwell and Casada said they don’t believe censuring Womick is necessary. House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he also doesn’t support impeachment.

Womick stood by his comments about Haslam Wednesday, blasting Harwell and Casada in the process.

“That just goes to show you our leadership in the House,” Womick said, when asked about comments from Harwell and Casada.

“They’re going to try and stiff-arm and prevent a special session because the governor doesn’t want one.”

Several House Republicans, including Womick, want the governor to call a special session in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Although several have proposed legislation to “protect” clergy from being forced to officiate same-sex marriages, there is nothing in state or federal law that requires private officials to preside over any type of wedding.

And this from a Richard Locker report:

Asked Thursday if he has any thoughts on Womick’s latest remarks calling for impeachment proceedings against him, the governor said, “I really don’t. When I was sworn in, I swore to uphold the law and the constitutions of the United States of America and Tennessee and that’s what the governor’s job is.”

Note: Previous post HERE. An example of blogger bashing of Womick HERE.

Womick calls for impeachment of Haslam

State Rep. Rick Womick is calling for impeachment of Gov. Bill Haslam for accepting the gay-marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and of the five justices for making the decision, reports the Daily News Journal.

“I am looking at impeachment proceedings,” the Republican lawmaker from Rutherford County said during a Tuesday phone interview.

Womick contends that Haslam should enforce the Tennessee Constitution and the amendment approved by voters in a referendum that bans gay marriage because the U.S. Supreme Court has no authority to rule on marriage.

“He (Haslam) changed the constitution and changed state law without addressing the General Assembly,” said Womick, who lives in the Rockvale community southwest of Murfreesboro. “He failed to uphold his oath to the state. He went and altered state law. He put homosexuals on marriages licenses.

“He did not consult the General Assembly on any of this. He did this based on the five rogue justices in Washington, D.C. He doesn’t have that power, and, therefore, we are looking at impeachment proceedings.”

Haslam spokesman David Smith Tuesday declined to comment about Womick’s assertions.

…”The governor ignored our (Tennessee) Constitution,” Womick said. “He ignored state law and changed it himself. He does not have the power to change the state law or the constitution like he did.”

Womick also said he wants to see Congress impeach the five justices who ruled in the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I am working with (U.S. Rep.) Scott DesJarlais to impeach those five justices,” Womick said.

DesJarlais, a fellow Republican from South Pittsburg, acknowledged that he listened to what Womick had to say about the impeachment idea.

“A lot of people in Tennessee were disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision and feel that it was a step in the wrong direction for states rights,” DesJarlais said during a Tuesday phone interview. “He contacted me about the idea, and I did not have answers for him.”

DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson said during the phone conversation that the congressman directed his staff to look into the issue.

Womick on Facebook: Consider impeaching Haslam

In a Facebook posting, state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, suggests that legislators give “serious consideration” to impeachment of Gov. Bill Haslam for having “bowed down” to the U.S. Supreme Court on the same-sex marriage ruling, reports the Times-Free Press.

Womick brought up impeachment as he shared a link to MSNBC liberal talk show host Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” page, which featured a video of South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright attacking the legalization of same-sex marriage during a debate on the Confederate flag.

In the post Womick said, “And where is Tennessee’s leadership oh that’s right our Governor bowed down to the five self appointed gods in black robes just minutes after they issued their ‘opinion!'”

Womick went on to charge that Haslam “changed Tennessee state law and our State Constitution without ever consulting with the General Assembly. I think it’s time to give serious consideration to impeachment hearings against Gov. Haslam and these five rogue SCOTUS justices!”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Haslam and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, a fellow Republican, said they disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling but noted the state had no choice but to follow the ruling.

…Efforts to reach Womick were unsuccessful.

Haslam spokesman David Smith had no comment on Womick’s Facebook posting. Asked whether Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell planned to join with Womick on exploring impeachment, a top Harwell aide said, “No, she’s not.”

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said of Womick that “maybe he just got a little carried away. I wouldn’t be in favor of that [impeachment]. I wasn’t sure what the charge was or the reasoning behind it was. I assume it was complying with the Supreme Court decision.”

“I don’t think the governor has a choice,” McCormick added.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini said such talk from Womick should come as no surprise.

“It’s typical,” she said. “He may want to look into how our government actually works before he says outrageous things like this. There’s a reason why we have a system of checks and balances. There’s plenty of times I’ve disagreed [with Supreme Court decisions] but that’s how our government is set up.”