April 28, 2021

Statement on the TN Legislature Politicizing Our Courts

Within 48 hours, Organize Tennessee gathered 357 signatures from Tennesseans all across the state and sent 57 emails to Governor Lee to urge him to oppose this legislation. In the strongest terms possible, Organize Tennessee opposes SB0868/HB1130, and the creation of a new Chancery Court. The state of Tennessee does not want nor need this new court, as we already have an appellate court system that works. This bill not only violates separation of powers, but brings politics to a court system that should be solely focused on justice. 


There are many reasons we oppose this legislation. For starters, this legislation would give extraordinary power to our Governor, and allow him to appoint the justices who will hear cases against the state. This is clear overreach by the governor and is a clear conflict of interest. Our judiciary is, and should continue to be, separate from the executive branch. This new Chancery Court would cost taxpayers millions of dollars, with experts estimating that setting up and staffing the court will cost about $1 million a year. There are real questions about procedural aspects of a new court, and at minimum, it should slow down to address these concerns. 


Overall, this is reckless, a betrayal of trust, and puts politics over people. This is too important, with outcomes that are too consequential, to be this reckless. We’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to create a court, but we haven’t taken the time to get the mechanics right. This legislature is gambling Tennesseans constitutional rights to protect its own power. We should be focusing on people, not politics. The people elect leaders whom they believe will do the right thing. Instead, this move betrays the trust of voters by undermining our system of checks and balances and attacking the bedrock of our democracy -- a fair and impartial court system.