Measure requiring popular election of judges fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A proposal to amend the state constitution to require the popular election of Supreme Court justices is likely dead this session.

The measure sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ophelia Ford of Memphis failed to get a majority vote in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The legislation also promotes the popular election of appeals judges from districts that would be established by the Legislature.

Under the current Tennessee judicial selection method, a commission nominates judges, the governor appoints them and voters cast ballots either for or against keeping them on the bench.

While the system has withstood legal challenges, critics say it conflicts with language in the state constitution that says Supreme Court justices "shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state."

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