Greeson: Tennessee lawmakers playing politics with 'super' chancery court

Members of the Tennessee House debate a bill allowing most adults to carry handguns without obtaining a permit Monday, March 29, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. The bill passed the House, 64-29, and can now be signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

What lawmakers hope will be the final week of the Tennessee General Assembly will be a busy one.

Sure, the legislature completed its lone constitutional job requirement by passing its budget last week.

But the details for dozens of line items of varying importance still are looming, as this paper's Andy Sher reported Monday.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, told Sher he's "proud of our General Assembly in the steps we have taken to continue moving our state in a conservative direction."

He should be in terms of the fiscal status of our state. Tennessee's economy is strong and was ranked eighth among states in economic growth and eighth in domestic migration in the most recent study from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

While deciding how our tax dollars are allocated, varying priorities for varying politicians will become crystallized this week.

So, too, will their motives.

Among the bills are important conversations about policing reform measures as well as the all-too-often-politicized efforts to fight COVID-19.

Also in the conversation are the partisan efforts of Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, to form a "super" chancery court.

Overhauling longstanding policies as well as any power grab from one branch of government to another is a dangerous premise on its face.

As local attorney Lee Davis, who is leading the fight against the new court, which would hear all constitutional challenges to state law, said: "The problem with this is, it erodes public confidence in impartial judges."

It also continues the baseline hypocrisy that continues to erode our political system from both sides.

Because as Republicans - of which I am one - on a state-level race to reconstruct the legal system to "reflect the views of most Tennesseans," as Bell described, Republicans nationwide are outraged at the thought of Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress packing the Supreme Court to align it with their views.

If you are for one, then theoretically are you not for both? Or better yet, against both?

Sadly, that divide and lack of consistency is the hallmark of our current leadership, where our elected officials are playing American politics rather than serving the American people.

Contact Jay Greeson at [email protected].

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photo Jay Greeson