Process to fill Tenn. Supreme Court vacancy getting underway

Connie Clark

The application process is opening soon for attorneys who want to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The vacancy on the five-member bench was created by the death of Justice Connie Clark on Sept. 24. The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments late last week received official notice of the vacancy from Gov. Bill Lee’s office. The panel plans to interview candidates in the second week of December and then present a slate of three finalists for the govenror to choose from.

Candidates must be at least 35 years old and have lived in Tennessee for five years. No more than two of the five justices can be from one grand division of the state. The current makeup of the court means candidates for the vacancy must come from East or Middle Tenenssee.

Clark was from Williamson County, as is Justice Jeff Bivins. Chief Justice Roger Page and Justice Holly Kirby are from West Tennessee, and Justice Sharon Lee is from the East. Bivins, Page, and Kirby were appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, while Lee and Clark were named to the bench by Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.

Under a 2014 amendment to the state constitution, the General Assemlby can reject the governor’s appointments to appellate courts.

UPDATE from the Administrative Office of the Courts:

The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the passing of Justice Cornelia A. Clark on September 24, 2021.

Any interested applicant must be a licensed attorney who is at least 35 years of age, a resident of the state for five years, and a resident of the Eastern or Middle Tennessee Grand Divisions. Applicants must complete the designated application and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by 12:00 p.m. CST on Friday, November 19th. Applicants should note the AOC must receive all materials by 12:00 p.m. CST and materials in transit that arrive after that time will not be accepted. The application is available on the judicial resources page of tncourts.gov, located here: http://tncourts.gov/administration/judicial-resources

Applicants will be interviewed on either Wednesday, December 8 or Thursday, December 9 at a location to be announced soon.