Rep. Eric Watson does a good article on constitutional elections v the judicial selection process.
There are some legitimate reasons to consider keeping the Tennessee plan, however, at a very minimum the State Constitution must be amended to comply with the current practice of “selecting” judges. In such a case the people must approve the change at the ballot box back. That is how our state founding fathers intended for our state constitution to be amended. One of the most repeated arguments for retaining the Tennessee Plan is that the high cost of political campaigns could corrupt our judicial system. This is a legitimate concern; however it is possible to have judges comply with a different set of campaign finance laws than typical political campaigns. A few have even proposed some type of heavy restrictions on fundraising by judges with public financing as a part of the solution. This is a radical change that must be seriously discussed before moving forward. One thing is for certain, it is time for fundamental change in the process. Our state constitution is a sacred document that we must follow, not merely pages of suggestions for governing of state.
While he brings up some points often made by the opponents of constitutional elections some questions continues to come to my mind. Was there a real problem of money influencing Tennessee constitutional judicial elections previous to the judicial selection process being implemented? How much was spent electing our supreme court when we did things the constitutional way? If things are different now the question has to be asked.
Why would people suddenly think that what judges do is so important and in need of change if they are deciding things in a legal and constitutional way? Could it be because people are now seeing that our judges are not doing things in a fair and legal way? That their decisions are influenced by their own bias? That they are instead making laws up and doing things on their own intentions with little to hold them accountable?
Could that be a reason people suddenly see the need to be able to pull the judiciary back in to check?