NASHVILLE – The Tennessee General Assembly tonight passed an amendment to HB1130/SB868 that creates a new legal process for constitutional challenges to state laws. Seen for the first time in this evening’s conference committee, the bill passed both the House and the Senate less than two hours later. It was the last piece of legislation the General Assembly passed before it adjourned for the year.
“We’re pleased that the General Assembly resisted efforts to create an expensive and unnecessary statewide court to hear constitutional challenges to state laws. At the same time, the bill that passed instead brings some of the same consequences as the previous proposals,” said Shanna Singh Hughey, president of ThinkTennessee.
“This law restructures our judicial system in a fundamental way. But conversations about it happened at the last minute, behind closed doors, without an opportunity for meaningful debate or for Tennesseans – or most legal experts – to weigh in. Expert or not, we can all agree that politics have no place in our courts. But this rushed effort politicizes our courts and undermines Tennesseans’ right to a fair and impartial judiciary,” she said.
“We hope this isn’t the beginning of a sustained threat to our judiciary. But if it is, we’ll continue our fight to protect fair and independent courts. Tennesseans deserve no less.”
Legislative proposals seeking to alter the state’s court system have been widely questioned by legal experts, who had practical concerns about how the new system would operate and who were troubled by the overtly partisan nature of the efforts.