NASHVILLE - A conservative group that started the movement to reject then-Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Penny White in 1996 says it is backing current Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade in the Aug. 7 election.
While Republicans like state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and at least four groups are trying to defeat Wade and fellow Justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee, Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty's group issued a statement saying "partisan politics should not enter into the court system.
"To allow such undermines the rule of law that is so vital to an orderly and civil society," the group says, adding, "Daugherty was proud of his original endorsement of Gary Wade. Justice Wade has kept his word that he would go by the Constitution no matter whether he agree or disagreed with it, including the death penalty."
The statement says nothing about Clark and Lee.
Back in 2006, Daugherty's group announced it opposed then-Justice White, an appointee of former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, in the retention election based on her opinion in a death penalty case.
Soon after, then-Gov. Don Sundquist said he opposed White and she became the only Tennessee Supreme Court justice to lose on a retention vote.
"Honoring your promises is important to the TCU," the group says in its statement. "TCU backs conservative policies and fidelity to the state and federal constitutions. We have always looked favorably upon conservatives of all stripes, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, who support and advance conservative policies and respect for the Constitution."
The TCU release says the group's officials realize their position differs from Ramsey, whom they call a "dear friend ... [who] has accomplished an amazing amount for conservatives."
But they also said we also recognize that when one party holds all the power, whether it is Republican or Democrat, problems will arise. Both George Washington and Lord Acton warned us of that."
The TCA, formed in 1976, opposed McWherter's 1991 and 1992 efforts to get a state income tax through the General Assembly and has been generally friendly to Republicans but has been known to back Democrats it considers sufficiently conservative.
In 2012, the group backed Republican Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga in his state Senate GOP primary.