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State of Tennessee

History of Reform Efforts: Tennessee

Altering Selection Methods

Tennessee's constitution sets judicial term lengths at eight years and provides that judges of the supreme court and inferior courts are to be elected by the people. However, the Tennessee Plan, which is statutorily based, establishes a merit selection process for appellate court judges. The Tennessee Plan has been the subject of several state and federal constitutional challenges, but these challenges have been unsuccessful.

Proposed constitutional amendments must be passed by a majority of the members of each house of the general assembly in one session and then by two thirds of the members in the next session. They must then be approved by a majority of those voting for governor at the next general election.