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Supreme Court Selects Republican AG After Contentious Year


When conservatives in Tennessee failed to unseat three Democratic Supreme Court justices in a statewide election last month, Democratic Attorney General Bob Cooper thought he might have a chance at another eight-year term.

He was wrong.

This morning, the five justices announced Republican Herbert Slatery of Knoxville as their choice to fill Cooper’s post.  Slatery will be the first Republican to hold the job since Reconstruction.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee law school, Slatery is a friend and chief legal counsel to Governor Bill Haslam.

“As the first Republican attorney general in Tennessee history, Herbert Slatery will be a strong advocate for the people of Tennessee and a vigilant defender of Tennessee’s conservative reforms,” GOP Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey said in a statement.  “I look forward to working with him to defend our conservative reforms and the legal interests of all Tennesseans.”

Ramsey was at the head of a conservative movement to oust Democratic Supreme Court justices Sharon Lee, Gary Wade and Cornelia Clark in part over concerns they would appoint Cooper to a second eight-year term.  Cooper drew the ire of conservatives for refusing to challenge ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s health care plan.  The justices kept their seats in the election, but in the end, chose a Republican anyway. 

“I am disappointed that our Supreme Court has capitulated to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and the very special interest groups that tried to replace our Justices just one short month ago,” House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said in a response to the appointment.  “By retaining Justices Clark, Lee and Wade, Tennesseans have shown that their votes are not for sale. The people of Tennessee have proven they are capable of seeing through rhetoric and, when given the opportunity to vote, can be trusted to preserve the independence of the courts. Unfortunately, our Supreme Court Justices today failed that same test.”

Although Cooper’s term ended on the last day of August, he has continued in his role as AG at the request of the Supreme Court.   A date for Slatery's transition to the job has not yet been chosen.