Today at 3:34 pm CDT the Vote No on 2 Committee through their State Coordinator issued a written challenge to Chief Justic Sharon Lee of the TN Supreme Court. The letter is below.
Hon. Sharon Lee, Chief Justice
Tennessee Supreme Court
Dear Chief Justice Lee:
I am writing you to inform you that I strongly object to your endorsement of Amendment 2. With all due respect, I believe you have abused you office and that you should immediately withdraw the email message below which, as stated, was sent to every lawyer in Tennessee who is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association. Your endorsement is self-serving in the extreme in that passage of Amendment 2, as you very well know, means that you and your colleagues will be allowed to run unopposed in a “rubber stamp” retention election, which to my knowledge neither you nor other members of the Court have disclosed.
Furthermore, I believe it is improper for you and your colleagues to take a position on a matter which is certain to be questioned in the courts of this State. You and your colleagues’ endorsement has taken the matter out of your hands and ensured any such questions will be decided by a specially appointed Supreme Court which is beholden to no one other than the Governor. Certainly, that is not in the best interest of justice. Your endorsement of Amendment 2 to “Tennessee lawyers” is also improper as you have the highest position of supervision and professional discipline of lawyers. Surely the implications to every attorney’s livelihood is not lost on even the slowest lawyer in the State.
As state coordinator for the Vote NO on 2! committee, I have made joint presentations with various speakers chosen by the Vote Yes on 2 organization. One of those speakers was Ms. Linda Knight who on two separate occasions (one of which was recorded), when arguing why Amendment 2 is needed, made the following statement: “Judicial candidates and Judges can’t state their positions on issues.” Yet, this is precisely what you have done. In the words of those who support Amendment 2, you “can’t” do what you have done. As a non-lawyer I will leave it to you, Ms. Knight, and the Vote Yes on 2 organization to determine whether your endorsement violates judicial ethical requirements, or whether as a practicing attorney Ms. Knight’s comments on the law and the courts were deliberately misleading to the public.
You have chosen to inject politics into the debate about Amendment 2 and subject the Supreme Court to the charge of hypocrisy over your own selfish interests. It was your choice to send an endorsement message to the lawyers of this State that was intended to chill their participation against the amendment. Therefore, I demand you withdraw it immediately.
John Avery Emison, Ph.D.
Author, and State Coordinator for Vote NO on 2!