With A Deluge Of Progressive Socialists Invading Our Governments, It Is Vital That Each Conservative State Has An Aggressive “Legal Beagle” To Fight Like A Mad Dog To Guard Their Sovereignty And State’s Rights. Electing The Attorney General Gives Us A Tenable Watch Dog To Support The Laws We Pass And Defend The Laws Our Voters Have Approved. This Is Critical To Isolate Us From Progressive Federalism.
Photo: Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III
Photo Credit: tn.gov & Jon698 / CC
Published June 14, 2021
Exclusive Editorial for The Tennessee Conservative
By William Haupt III [Tennessee Watchdog Journalist, Columnist, Author, and Citizen Legislator] –
“An attorney general doesn’t get to choose the laws he likes or doesn’t like.” (Luther Strange)
As we continue to watch the Biden administration and his gang of socialist progressives walk all over our states rights, many of us begin to question: “Who is the guardian of these rights? And who is responsible for protecting our state sovereignty under the provisions of the 10th Amendment? Who in our state has the ultimate responsibility to stop these daily violations by D.C Federalists?
Our Attorney General is the supreme legal guardian for our state and the fundamental enforcer of our laws. As chief law enforcement officer he is obligated to prosecute all violations of those laws. He’s also responsible for protecting our state independence and our 10th Amendment rights from federal violation. And if the federalists trespass on our turf it is his duty to defend our sovereignty.
One would think our supreme being of legal authority; the one who guards the sanctity of our states legal fate; and the one who defends us against federalism would be chosen by the electorate? Isn’t he accountable to our legislators? And isn’t the legislature accountable to those who elect them?
This is a basic premise of “representative government.” Yet, in Tennessee we have a draconian way that we select our Attorney General. In Tennessee, and our state alone, our Supreme Court magistrates, appointed by governors have the privilege to axiomatically hand pick our state legal lieutenant. This is fortuitous for the Court since they choose who they will have legal fisticuffs with.
Attorney Generals are elected by popular vote in 43 states. In 6 states the governor appoints them. In Maine the AG is appointed by the state legislature. But in Tennessee, the AG is appointed by the Supreme Court? Inquisitorial voters are now expressing concern for the rectitude and credence of this conformism. Why do courts get to choose who they wish to debate during contentious battles? This “unholy alliance” is a “deal with the devil” for the courts and a very bad “deal for our citizens?”
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Tennessee was a frontier state when its 1st Constitution was written at the Knoxville convention in 1796. It abrogated the balance of power, gifting excess control to the governor and the legislature, with limited rights to the voters. As Tennessee became more urban, people questioned this? And in 1834 a 2nd convention was held in Nashville to write a more citizen friendly governing document.
The 1834 convention addressed unfair taxation, gave citizens more voice in the government, and redefined the powers of government and the courts. Although the governor maintained excessive power, the voters had more input on his appointments for office holders and the courts. The 1834 document stood until 1870 when it was revised to accommodate laws to enfranchise former slaves.
Section 3 of Article VI of our Constitution read, “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters.” So why does the state Supreme Court have the power to choose the state Attorney General? In 2010 Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, introduced SJR 698 a bill to amend the state Constitution to return the power to the people. It passed in the Senate but failed in the House.
In 2013 Sen. Mark Green (R) introduced SJR 196, a measure which would give the legislators the power to appoint the attorney general. The bill passed in the Senate but again failed in the House.
In 2014 voters made matters worse approving Amendment 2, the “Tennessee Plan”. They gave away the right to vote on Supreme Court judges and tossed in the privilege to choose the AG?
Last session Sen. Ken Yager, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus proposed a plan, SR001 for the state legislature to certify a State Attorney General who had been chosen by the Supreme Court. It passed in the Senate by a 22-9 vote. The fate of this amendment is now up to the House.
Although this compromise improves how the state selects the Attorney General, it is not consistent with the intentions of the original language or intent of our 1834 State Constitution. It stated; “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters.” Since that provision is not reinstated by this amendment is still does not give the people authority to select judges or the AG.
Tennessee has lost court cases and had laws nullified because the state Attorney General refused to act on behalf of the electorate. This exposed the flaw of having an appointed Democrat AG in a GOP state. Democrat governor Phil Bredesen hand picked his Democrat Court and rubberstamped their Democratic Attorney General. And his decisions didn’t reflect the true intent of the legislature.
During his tenure as Tennessee Attorney General, Democrat Bob Cooper was constantly at odds with the Republican state legislature for his legal opinions and refusing to take legal action against the federal government and defend key Tennessee laws. When he refused to join other Attorney Generals in their legal challenge of Obamacare, he was not reappointed after his term expired.
State Supreme Court justices are required to recuse themselves in cases which they may have a personal interest. Once the whole court had to step aside when the court itself became the subject of litigation. Having an appointed AG by the court cannot possibly help untangle another complex legal bed of quicksand like this one. An elected AG by the people would remove all future conflicts.
Since the role of the AG is to provide the highest level of legal service to our state and our citizens, it defies ethical legal logic to allow the court to choose their “chief adversary?” How many Olympic Gold Medal winners would there be if contestants got to choose their own judges? Who would you want to defend you? A lawyer appointed by the courts, or the best mouthpiece you could afford?
With a deluge of progressive socialists invading our governments, it is vital that each conservative state has an aggressive “legal beagle” to fight like a mad dog to guard their sovereignty and state’s rights. Electing the Attorney General gives us a tenable watch dog to support the laws we pass and defend the laws our voters have approved. This is critical to isolate us from progressive federalism.
US Senator, Herb Kohl said, “Before we give you this power, we ask you to stand before the public and explain your views. Justice may be blind, but it should not be deaf.” We know very little about any AG appointed by the court. But candidates who are seeking office are forced to answer tough questions. If voters elect the wrong person they can redeem themselves during the next election.
Francis Bacon intoned; “If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us.” With this group of power hungry federalists waiting to snatch our states rights, it is up to every state to defend its sovereignty from “federal grand theft!” Every time we lose a right it is gone forever. Our AG should be chosen by the people he is accountable to, not the court! “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” (John Adams)
About the Author:
William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. His work also appears in The Center Square, The Western Journal, Neighbor Newspapers, KPXJ 21 (Shreveport, LA), Killeen Daily Herald, Aberdeen American News, InsideNova, Kankakee Daily Journal, Monterey County Weekly, Olean Times Herald, The Greeneville Sun and more.