Hooker: Judicial Retention Election Statute is Unconstitutional

by TN Press Release Center on September 17, 2012

Op-ed from John Jay Hooker, Advocate for Election & Campaign Finance Reform; September 14, 2012: 

Supreme Court Judges, the Big Lie, and the Cover-up

In 1973 in the case of Higgins v. (Governor) Dunn, the Supreme Court of Tennessee unlawfully held that the Retention Election statute is constitutional. The constitutionality of the Act was not properly before the court due to the fact that Governor Dunn had made no appointment under the Act, nor was there any election conducted under the Act. Under the facts of the case, the Act was not “APPLICABLE”. Therefore, the Court had no power, in legal terms, no jurisdiction, to rule on the constitutional issue. As a result of that unlawful decision, the “BIG LIE” was born and lives today.

However, the “BIG LIE”, that the Retention Election statute is constitutional, is perpetuated by the decision in the case of Hooker v. Thompson in 1996. In that case the court again held the Retention Election statute constitutional, relying upon the ruling in the Higgins v. Dunn case. The Court so held, notwithstanding the fact the Court had held that that there could be no election under the Act. Therefore the constitutional issue was not properly before the Court.

Unbelievably, the Tennessee Bar Association and many of the biggest law firms in Tennessee and lobbying organizations such as Tennesseans for Fair and Impartial Courts, because these organizations want judges to be appointed by the Governor, notwithstanding the fact that the constitution requires that all judges be elected by the qualified voters, all claim that the Retention Election Statute is constitutional. Those claims are based on the Court’s rulings in the two aforesaid decisions. Notwithstanding the fact that these lawyers know, if they have read the Constitution, that the claim that the Act is constitutional is a “BIG LIE”.

In furtherance of the “BIG LIE”, Governor Haslam appointed as Special Judges former Chief Justice Barker and former Supreme Court Justice Brown, who Governor Haslam knew or should have known were both on the Board of Directors of the lobbying organization Tennesseans for Fair and Impartial Courts. Those Special Judges were obviously not “IMPARTIAL” and should not have been appointed by Governor Haslam to sit on the Special Supreme Court, nor should those Judges have accepted the public trust that goes with being a Special Supreme Court Justice and consequently when those Judges accepted that appointment, they dishonored the Constitution and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, and they know they did. For that reason, upon the motion of this lawyer, they have disqualified themselves in this case.

Astonishingly, on September 8th, Governor Haslam stated that the disqualification of these Judges was unnecessary, notwithstanding the fact that these Judges admitted that their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned”. Furthermore, these Judges in this case cannot preside without the consent of all the parties, which consent was never given. Apparently, that claim by Governor Haslam is simply a part of the “COVER UP” that the Governor and other high governmental officials in all three branches of government, with the cooperation of the office of the Attorney General, are orchestrating on behalf of the special interest groups who want the Supreme Court and other appellate judges of this state to be appointed by the Governor as opposed to being chosen in an election by the qualified voters as the Constitution, in plain language, requires.

The Governor of Tennessee is not a lawyer, but the Constitution was written and ratified by mostly non-lawyers. If the Governor would read the Constitution and the aforementioned Higgins and Hooker cases, and if for that matter each reader of this article will do likewise, the Governor and you will understand that those decisions that gave birth to the “BIG LIE” that rule that the retention election statute is constitutional were unlawfully decided and consequently must be overruled in this case if we are to reestablish the rule of law in Tennessee.

To claim that he believes otherwise is further proof that the Governor of Tennessee is involved in covering up the “BIG LIE” in an effort to keep the Retention Election Statute on the books so that he, as Governor, shall have the sole power to appoint appellate judges. This deprives the citizens of this state their constitutional right to choose their judges in the same right that they have to choose all public officials.

If you want to exercise your God-given, constitutional right to refute the “BIG LIE” and stop the “COVER UP” contact this lawyer who, as a public citizen, is determined under my oath to support the Constitution and represent those in this matter those who are otherwise voiceless.

 

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