Thursday, May 28, 2009

House Cuts Governor's Power in Judicial Selection Plan

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 1:12 PM

click to enlarge oie_nashvillecapitol.jpg
The House has just voted 58-38 for the Senate version of the judicial selection plan with one important change: The House yanked a provision that would give the governor almost unlimited power to make appointments. Under the Senate bill, the governor could reject the selection commission's nominees "for good cause" and choose to appoint anyone who has applied for a judgeship. Under the House version, the governor must pick from the commission's slate of nominees. The bill now probably will go to a House-Senate conference committee to settle the difference.

Rep. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, made the case for contested elections for judges. As usual, the longer he talked, the more votes he seemed to lose. Kelsey harangued the House, reading aloud the members' oath of office and demanding that they follow it by voting with him.

"I've taken the oath of office 18 times. I don't need it read to me," Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, told Kelsey.

Naifeh backed an amendment to keep the present system in place, but he eventually acknowledged it couldn't pass the Senate, so he withdrew it. Naifeh gave this little speech:

"I am very passionate about this and I think what we have is the best thing, what we presently have in place right now is the best thing. But I am also a realist. I know that if this amendment goes on, then we have no plan. I know the Senate will not accept it. I am not going to play into their hands on that. We're being held hostage by the Senate. It happens, ladies and gentlemen. The golden rule, them that's got the votes makes the rules, and they got 'em over there."
The House Rube Faction was quite agitated over this vote. They think the state constitution forbids retention elections for judges. Plus, they think they can put fellow rubes on the Supreme Court if contested elections are held. "I'm disappointed in my fellow Republicans who cannot read and understand that the judges shall be elected by the people of this state," said an angry Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains.


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