NASHVILLE - Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has made Tennessee Supreme Court justices an offer on judicial elections he hopes they can't refuse.
Ramsey revealed Thursday that he has told Chief Justice Cornelia Clark that he and and other Republicans will drop their bill requiring competitive elections for top judges if justices support a constitutional amendment enshrining the present merit-selection plan.
Currently, top judges under statute are appointed by the governor and later run on a referendum retention ballot in which Tennesseans cast yes or not votes on whether to keep the jurists.
Ramsey and other conservative Republicans argue the system is unconstitutional, although variations of the plan have been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1973 and a special Supreme Court in the 1990s.
Serious opposition began when justices serving in 2000 declared women had a fundamental right to an abortion under the state Constitution.