NASHVILLE – The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a resolution sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), calling for an elected State Attorney General (AG). The resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 698, was approved during a late Tuesday meeting of the panel.
“Tennessee is the only state in the nation that allows the State Supreme Court to select the attorney general,” said Senator Beavers, who is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “Forty-three states already select their attorney generals through popular election and it is time for this General Assembly to also show their confidence in the collective wisdom of the people of Tennessee.”
In six other states, the Attorney General is selected by either the popularly elected Governor or the popularly elected state legislature. Beavers said that when Tennessee’s Constitution was written calling for nomination by the Supreme Court Justices, the court was popularly elected.
“Tennessee is the only state in the nation in which the people have neither a direct nor indirect voice in the selection of their Attorney General,” Beavers added. “Someone has to be accountable to the people, and yesterday’s AG opinion on the Health Freedom Act shows once again, the importance of having an Attorney General who represents the will of the people of this state.”
The resolution offered by Beavers would amend the state’s Constitution to allow a popular election every four years. The amendment process would require approval by both the 106th General Assembly currently in session, and the 107th, which will take office in 2011. If approved, the question would then go to voters in a statewide referendum in the year 2014.
“Along with the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans and 96% of the rest of this nation, I feel that the citizens of this state ought to have a ‘say so’ in the highest legal office in Tennessee,” she concluded.