Tennessee Senate takes good first step in reforming judicial retention system: Vanderbilt expert

Brian Fitzpatrick
Brian Fitzpatrick (Vanderbilt University)

The Tennessee state Senate has made a significant move toward reforming the way the state selects and retains judges, said a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who had advocated such change.

The Senate voted 23-8 Monday evening to approve a constitutional amendment to replace the current system with a modified federal method. The amendment now goes to the state house. If it passes there, it has to be approved again next year by both chambers and then by the voters.

“Although this is only the first step in a multi-year process, the Senate deserves great credit for taking the Constitution seriously,” said Brian Fitzpatrick, associate professor of law. “Not only has this vote put our state on a path to a system that is legal, but the constitutional amendment, if adopted, would improve the current system by making our judges more accountable to the people of Tennessee.”