Top Tennessee Judge: 'A Lesson in Hardball Politics'

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade, one of three justices targeted for ouster in retention elections this summer, sat down with a newspaper editorial board and called the campaign “in a sense, disturbing” and a departure from the past.

“I guess we are getting a lesson in hardball politics,” the justice said, according to the Bristol Herald Courier. He said that Tennessee’s retention (up-or-down) elections when appellate judges seek a new term were intended to remove partisan politics from the courts, but that the tactics of Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey have brought a change. Ramsey is the foremost advocate for ousting the justices, who were appointed by a Democratic governor.

The state’s Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission recommended earlier that the three justices and 19 other judges were qualified to appear on the retention ballot. Ramsey has disagreed with the commission’s findings. He says Ramsey says the three justices are “soft on crime” and anti-business.

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