- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - As observers wait to see whether Attorney General Herbert Slatery has any interest in filling an upcoming vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court, Gov. Bill Haslam said he hasn’t had any discussion about it with his close friend and former top legal adviser.

The state’s highest court appointed Slatery to an eight-year term as attorney general last year, but the Sept. 8 retirement of Justice Gary Wade has raised questions about whether he may seek to move up to the Supreme Court bench.

The governor appoints Supreme Court justices in Tennessee, and Haslam acknowledged Thursday that “there has been a lot of speculation” surrounding Slatery’s plans. Asked whether he would welcome or discourage Slatery’s application for the high court bench, Haslam said “neither.”

“My sense is that Herbert is loving his job as attorney general, he’s just gotten into that and he’s very happy there,” the governor said.

Because the attorney general is so close with the governor, other potential candidates will likely want to wait and see what Slatery decides before submitting an application.

One potential roadblock to Slatery joining the Supreme Court is a new provision approved by voters in November that gives the Legislature power to reject the governor’s nominees.

Slatery has issued several legal opinions since taking office that have upset some lawmakers. They include opinions that a proposal to make the Bible the official state book was unconstitutional; that a state law forbidding local governments from banning firearms in parks also applies to private businesses operating facilities; and that state open records laws require the disclosure of lawmakers’ state health insurance benefits.

But lawmakers couldn’t agree this year on a mechanism to reject judicial nominations - both the House and Senate wanted to guard against the other chamber having too much say in the matter - meaning the issue was punted to next year’s legislative session.

If the Legislature still can’t agree, any Haslam appointment would be considered approved within 60 days of the Jan. 13 start of the session.


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