Thursday, April 19, 2007

When not to elect

As many Tennesseans know, there has been a clamor among many conservatives in this State for both an elected Lieutenant Governor and elected judges. Insofar as the latter goes, I think that it is pretty evident from any reading of the Tennessee Constitution that our current method of selecting judges is unconstitutional. However, I am not certain that the general public is informed enough about our judicial system to make good choices-no matter what a particular voter or judges ideology may be.

This is a sad commentary about how poorly informed about government that the average citizen tends to be. Although the influence of the blogosphere is clearly increasing, political bloggers as a group tend to be far more informed than the rest of the population. I'd also be willing to bet the ranch that State Senators know these people better than we do. While the Constitution is clear that we should be electing our judges and we are not, I would propose that we take things a step further and amend the Constitution of Tennessee to allow for the Governor to appoint judges and the Senate to confirm them.

The similar movement in some quarters to elect the Lieutenant Governor is also misplaced, in my humble opinion. If we elect the Lt. Governor, and divorce the position from that of Speaker of the Senate, what sort of job will our Lt. Governor have? He or she would be a non-entity in day-to-day affairs of the State of Tennessee, and their primary job will be to simply wait and see if the Governor dies. Under our current system, our Lt. Governor, like his predecessor and all those before them serves as Speaker of the Senate, and is a State Senator with a real district and real constituents who he has to please. He serves an extremely valuable function in the affairs of the State.

He may have signed on to the proposal, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. The Speaker of the Senate, whomever that may be, ought to continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor.



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