Press Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn., September 5, 2014 - A group of lawmakers said today that they would like to hear whether or not the candidates for Tennessee Attorney General would have joined a majority of states in challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court, which selects the state’s Attorney General, will conduct interviews for the position currently held by General Robert Cooper, on Monday, September 8 at 9 am in a public meeting at Legislative Plaza in Nashville.
Legislators and other attendees, however, will not be allowed to ask questions of applicants during the meeting. Cooper chose not to join in any legal actions challenging the PPACA which was signed into law in 2010.
“This is a position which defends laws passed by the legislature,” said Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville). “Along with a great many Tennesseans, we want to know whether the other applicants would have pursued a case like the majority of other states to defend our sovereignty.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states, including 26 acting jointly, pursued legal challenges opposing provisions in the federal healthcare law. This includes the landmark case which overturned a key provision of the PPACA that mandated states expand their Medicaid rolls. In addition, 11 state attorneys general joined together earlier this year in questioning the Obama Administration’s sidestepping of Congress through implementation of Obamacare rules, calling them “flatly illegal under federal, constitutional and statutory law.”
“This position may be chosen by the Supreme Court, but the person selected serves as the top lawyer for the citizens of this state,” added Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). “It is a tremendously important position. Right now, we are in the minority of states which have not challenged this overreach of federal power. We don’t expect that this power grab will subside. We hope that this question will be posed and believe it will provide great insight for the public regarding these applicants.”
According to a press release issued by the Tennessee Supreme Court, applicants will have up to 10 minutes to speak on their own behalf during the public meeting. Members of the public will then have the opportunity to express their opinions about the applicants. That hearing will be followed by public interviews of the applicants conducted by the justices of the State Supreme Court.
“Citizens across my district are concerned about state sovereignty on a great many matters that range from education to Obamacare,” added House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station). “We are pleased that these interviews for State Attorney General will be held in public. At the same time, we hope that they will include questions that matter most to our constituents.”
Tennessee is the only state in the nation which allows the selection of their attorney general by the Supreme Court. Forty-three states select their attorney generals through popular election, while six other states give that duty to the popularly elected governor or state legislature.
Lawmakers, in addition to Bell, Bowling and Casada, making the request include Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), House Government Operations Committee Chairman Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma), House Local Government Committee Chairman Matthew Hill (R-Johnson City), Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster).
My Comment: An amendment that is not on the ballot this year and I wish was, would be an amendment that had the attorney general elected by the people. If not elected, then appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State House of Representatives. I think it violates any concept of separation of powers to have the attorney general selected by the supreme court. The attorney general must ague cases before the same people who chose him. We need to chance the way we select our attorney general.