nathan bedford forrest

Vacancy on Capitol Commission puts off decision on Forrest bust

It could be months before Gov. Bill Lee fills a vacancy on the Tennessee Capitol Commission, meaning the panel will remain in a holding pattern about whether to recommend the removal of a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The AP’s Jonathan Mattise reports that Lee is focused on other priorities since his appointee Deputy Chief Tyreece Miller of the Jackson police stepped down from commission. Miller, who is black, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to become the U.S. Marshal for West Tennessee.

“There have been other things that have filled the docket between that point and now,” Lee told reporters in Nashville. “But we will be making an appointment to that commission over the next few months and they will be meeting again. They haven’t determined when they will be meeting. But I’m sure that will unfold over the next several weeks.”

 

Capitol Commission won’t vote on Forrest bust at next meeting

Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, left, participates in a meeting of the State Funding Board in Nashville on Jan. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A long-awaited meeting of the State Capitol Commission next month won’t decide the fate of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust located outside the House and Senate chambers.

Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter told reporters on Tuesday that he envisions a series of at least two meetings to sound out supporters and opponents of moving the bust of the former slave trader, Confederate general, and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Even if the Capitol Commission were to seek a waiver under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act to remove the bust, a lengthy process would ensue. The State Historical Commision must wait at least 60 days to hold an initial hearing once a petition is filed. A final hearing can’t take place until at least 180 days after that. And any determination made by the panel (it would take two-thirds of the members to remove the monument) would have to wait 120 days from the final notice being posted on its website from going into effect.

And of course not of that takes into account any likely court challenges.

In other words, it’s going to be a while. Unless lawmakers decide to jump start the process by filing legislation to bypass the hurdles put in place by the Heritage Protection Act.