Speakers seek rare AG’s opinion on effort to move Forrest bust

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Asking for a legal opinion from the state attorney general used to be a routine procedure. But these days, Herbert Slatery deigns to opine on only a handful of issues — and then only ones that aren’t likely to result in litigation.

So it will be interesting to see what Slatery does in response to a request for a legal opinion from House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) about whether Gov. Bill Lee is following proper procedure for moving the controversial bust of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader and early Ku Klux Klan leader, from the state Capitol.

The Tennessee Historical Commission is scheduled to meet later this week for what is supposed to be the final step in an extensive process required to change historical markers or monuments.

Sexton and McNally argue the Lee administration missed an intermediate step after the State Capitol Commission voted in favor of a petition asking for the move’s approval. The speakers pointed to language in the code requiring the State Building Commission to concur with any action by the Capitol Commission. That did not happen in this case.

Four of the six members of the Building Commission also serve on the Capitol panel, and each of those four voted in favor of moving the bust. But the two who happen not to serve on both commissions are Sexton and McNally.

It’s the latest twist in the Forrest bust saga. When Lee appeared to have the votes on the Capitol Commission to recommend the move last year, lawmakers made an 11th-hour maneuver to add two more House and Senate representatives to the panel in an effort to block it. Lee, who hadn’t been consulted about changing the makeup of the panel, decided to call its next meeting before signing the new law into effect.

In Slatery’s first full year at the helm in 2015, his office issued 81 legal opinions. The output dropped to about 50 each in the following three years, before plummeting to 20 in 2019 and just 17 in 2020.

34 Responses to Speakers seek rare AG’s opinion on effort to move Forrest bust

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Somewhere, sometime we have to learn to say “NO” to the never ending demands, and ignore the never ending complaints, of the grievance industry that is only emboldened by the serial capitulations of our tall grass dwelling “leaders.” This would be as good a place as any to start.

    • Avatar
      Phillip Lassiter says:

      Agreed. Look at Forrest holistically. He did good and bad things-just like the Clintons and Bill Lee. Black face and rebel soldier impersonators. Forgive them all and move on or put them all out to pasture permanently with their careers. Just be consistent-not like Biden and Sen McNally.

  • Avatar
    Not that Stuart guy says:

    My first blush response to this was to say Slatery is not doing his job and should respond when the legislature asks -after all they should know when they decide to vote for something that will likely get thrown out in court later -which is a pretty common occurrence in super-majority land. But on more consideration, maybe Slatery is playing a longer game -knowing some of these “laws” the supermajority passes wont stand up to scrutiny and he’s therefore keeping his ammo dry. Or he’s making the case for more staff, which it seems like he’s going to get again for the aforementioned spate of unconstitutional laws certain to be challenged.

  • Avatar
    LeeAnn C. says:

    So very unfortunate that articles like this neglect highlighting that, in his latter years, Bedford Forrest is responsible for disbanding the KKK and speaking out against mistreatment of black people. No one is interested in telling the whole story.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Not when the “whole story” interferes with the leftist narrative LeeAnn.

      • Avatar
        Cryan says:

        Tell the whole story, LeeAnn. Forrest was a grifter and didn’t pay his many debts to Memphis business owners. He was a con man if anything. Denouncing the KKK but still hope they do your terroristic insurrection acts for you is not honorable. Forrest was the opportunistic Trump-like figure of the Confederacy.

        • Avatar
          Phillip Lassiter says:

          Yeah but he was one tough SOB and you could not wear one of his dirty socks he was such a tough soldier and Tennessean

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    The conservatives can screw up any worthwhile discussion concerning past abuses. They have no answers, they just want to blame “the Grievance Industry” for even trying to address past practices, some that were indeed evil and some that were simply wrong. They just want to “move on, nothing to see here.”

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      The grievance industry has no answer for the past simply because there is none. The past is gone and those who participated in it one way or another are dead. The grievance industry and their leftwing supporters are only interested in using the past in order to achieve political power in the present. Their only “answer” is to unjustly advantage those who weren’t harmed in the past by disadvantaging those who did no harm in the past because neither group was around. The Republican Party should be shouting these truths in a full throated manner but all too many of their officeholders hide in the tall grass until something comes up to effect the profitability of members of the Chamber of Commerce, so they simply can’t bestir themselves to do so.

      Nathan Bedford Forrest was born and spent most of his life in Tennessee. He was a native son who was a skillful cavalry general and a brilliant military strategist who valiantly served this state and the southern seceding states during the War Between the States. This is why his bust is rightly in the state Capitol. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the only perfect person ever to walk the earth. Everyone else has flaws in his history. The left’s game of combing the history books to find the warts in all of our historical figures in order to dishonor them is part of their goal to cause America to lose it’s confidence and “fundamentally change” this country which in itself is part of Cultural Marxism’s goal to fundamentally change western civilization. We should instead fundamentally change the Republican Party so it can lead the forces who want to resist this entire process beginning with saying “NO” to the grievance industry.

  • Avatar
    Christina Norris says:

    Nathan Bedford Forrest is a controversial figure with a checkered past. Why not use the limited space in our Capitol to honor someone all Tennesseans respect?

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      There is nothing at all controversial about why Forrest was honored. He served this state valiantly at a time of utmost crises in Tennessee’s history when we were invaded by a conquering army. We are not celebrating Forrest’s entire life nor are we necessarily celebrating the entire life of anyone we honor, for example Martin Luther King.

      Your question is a reasonable one which can be answered one way in a perfect world. This is not a perfect world. We have a group of leftists who form the grievance industry who make it their full time job to demand and whine in the face of which we have a Republican Party that is all too anxious to capitulate to their demands lest failure to do so would cause a ruction that might adversely effect the profits of some members of the Chamber. Each capitulation simply wets the apatite of the industry to demand and whine all the more. I say let’s call a halt to this process now.

  • Avatar
    David Collins says:

    Nathan Bedford Forrest was a traitor to the United States of America, like all the other insurrectionists who served in the C.S.A. group. Germany made the mistake in the 20’s by not executing Hitler after his failed Beer House Putsch in Munich, and the world paid for it in spades later. Lincoln’s failing was that instead of amnesty, he should have tried, and after found guilty, executed all the principles of the attempted succession movement–starting with Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee and coming right on down the line. There is nothing “honorable” about an insurrection and if you think there is, you’ve watched too many re-runs of Gone With the Wind. Bad acts should have consequences and those consequences should be commensurate with the bad act itself. And before anyone accuses me of being some sort of “Yankee transplant” and starts telling me to go back where I came from, I was born here and have lived here for 72 years, so if you can’t match that “pedigree”, keep your admonitions to yourself.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      You apparently were poorly educated about the War Between the States many years ago David and in about the last 52 years you haven’t been re-educated so I will attempt to accomplish that re-education now. The analogy you make between those who supported the Confederacy and the Nazis in the 20’s is a perfect illustration of your difficulty. On the one hand Hitler was attempting to overthrow the government of Bravaria. On the other hand the Confederates simply wanted to leave the United States. The Confederates had no desire whatsoever to change the government of the United States. The states that seceded simply felt that their best interests were no longer served by remaining in the union and by democratic vote the citizens of each state voted usually overwhelmingly to secede. Therefore the Nazis in Bravaria and the Confederates in the United States are two entirely different historic situations.

      David, opinion polls show the Scotts want to leave the UK for the same reason the Confederates wanted to leave the United States, make you mad? When the Slovaks left the Czechs and Czechoslovakia disappeared did you throw a shoe at the TV when you heard? There are about a dozen portions of the old Soviet Union that left mother Russia when the USSR ceased to exist, David, were you heartbroken when that happened? Then there are the Quebecois who want out of Canada and about four states of the old Yugoslavia who couldn’t wait to get away from the Serbs, outraged?

      I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea. We live in much better times than when ole Abe Lincoln sent an army down to suppress a people who wanted to simply leave the nation in which they found themselves. We no longer do that sort of thing just like we no longer have slavery anywhere in the world except Africa. The world is a better place in that respect, it would be great David if you thought so too.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        And there you have the average folks. Conservatives dancing with words.
        Anyone that doesn’t agree with the far right conservatives was obviously “just poorly educated.”

    • Avatar
      Cannoneer2 says:

      It is the height of false equivalence to compare the Confederate States of America to Nazi Germany. I am a native Tennessean whose ancestors arrived in Wilson County in the 1770’s, so I will not be keeping my opinion on this to myself. General Forrest helped repel the invasion of a sovereign nation by a foreign power.

    • Avatar
      Cannoneer2 says:

      David, if you would like to bring Nazi Germany into the discussuon for comparison, the U.S. Army and the Wehrmacht were both historically guilty of genocide, where the Confederate Army was not.

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    I am not 72, but I was born and raised in Tennessee as were the 4 generations before me. My great grandfather and great, great grandfather both fought in War Between the States. Thankfully President Lincoln had the forethought and wisdom to try and reunite our country. Not by killing all the confederates that could be rounded up, but by reaching out and trying to incorporate southerners back into the Union. The radical Republicans of the day wanted no part of it and that contributed to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. In today’s don’t offend me world, the left is continually on the hunt for racist and anyone connected to the confederacy is an easy target. As if all confederate soldiers owned slaves and were fighting for slavery . I am not a racist, would never condone slavery, but I also damn well respect those Tennesseans who answered the call of their state to take up arms and resist an invading army.

  • Avatar
    Donna Locke says:

    I’ve said this before, but as a native Tennessean in a county where Forrest has personal history, I advocate moving the Forrest bust to a museum and telling as full of the accurate story as possible there and in textbooks. The Forrest bust is an insult to black legislators and other black Americans.

  • Avatar
    David Collins says:

    Stuart, You are the one in need of a remedial history lesson. Adolph Hitler wanted to over throw the then existing German Government. It was the German Government who tried him for insurrection and only because he had some sympathetic judges on the court that tried him did he get off with a two year sentence, of which he only had to serve one year. You can try and sugar coat the history of this country by advocating that they were not trying to change the government of the United States, but that is exactly what succession would do–change the government of the US from the way it existed at that time. And who was it that fired the first shot at Fort Sumpter? Your explanation is right out of the chapters of that great book, History According to Jim Crow. The “interests” the succession States were trying to protect was slavery.

    You ask, “Did you throw a shoe at the TV” when several countries moved away from Russia after the fall of the USSR. No. Why would I. I am not Russian nor was I ever a part of the USSR. But I am an American and I will do more than throw a shoe at someone who tries to attack or destroy my country. The real comparison between Germany’s failure to respond to Hitler’s attack and Lincoln’s was to illustrate the price to be paid for adopting an attitude of, “well, it’s over, let’s just put all this behind us and move on.” When people see that there are no consequences for a group who tried to destroy something–that they basically were given a pass–then there is nothing to make them believe if they try something similar and fail that they won’t get the same thing. No deterrence.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Your re-education continues David in order of appearance as follows:

      1. You are conflating changing the form of government of a country with changing the geographical jurisdiction of the government of the country. Hitler wanted to change the form of the government of Germany but keep the jurisdiction of that government. The Slovaks had no interest in changing the government in Prague, the capital of Czechoslavakia, they only wanted to no longer be under the jurisdiction of that government. When the Irish succeeded from the UK the government of the UK did not change. Same results if the Scotts do the same. Same results when the Croatians and Slovenes succeeded re: the government in Belgrade. Same results if the Confederates were allowed to go their own way regarding the government in Washington, D.C. See how it works David?

      2. The shot fired at Fort Sumter was done so because ole Abe Lincoln was trying to reinforce the fort after South Carolina had voted to succeed and asked to take jurisdiction of the fort. It was simply a manifestation of Lincoln’s desire to thwart the state’s desire for independence by force. A thoroughly modern man of the left like yourself David should simply recognize that fighting a war to stop succession that cost 655,000 dead and 476,000 wounded in a country of about 36 million is simply not something civilized countries do anymore and is nothing to be proud of today, sort of like slavery.

      3. In 1860 no one, including Abe Lincoln and most of the Republicans questioned the right of states that had previously voted to allow slavery to continue to be slave states except for a small group of abolitionist extremists. The War Between the States was not fought to end slavery no matter what your government school teacher taught you to believe. There was therefore no reason for the southern states to secede to preserve slavery.

      4. No one in the Confederacy had the slightest interest in destroying the United States. The people in the seceding states simply wanted to leave in peace as they entered the Union in peace. The reason that there wasn’t more retribution against the South that you apparently wish had occurred is perhaps because after the incredible carnage brought about by ole Abe Lincoln and his Republican cohorts was over the country shook its collective head and simply wanted to put the entire shameful spectacle behind it as soon as possible and move on.

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        I know the difference between “succeed” and “secede” I simply have trouble conveying it to my fingers so wherever you see a word that looks anything like “secede” and “secession” that’s what I mean.

        • Avatar
          Cannoneer2 says:

          If autocorrect gets involved, it really dislikes the word “secede” for some reason

        • Avatar
          Paul says:

          The war was about peace? Stuart, that fancy non-government school you attended might want to give you your money back. Orwell could not have said it better. What a hoot….do you even read this stuff before you submit it? Let’s see here….Abe Lincoln sent an army down to “suppress a people who simply wanted to leave”…got it. It’s all about leaving and being left alone.

          Do you think those “people who wanted to leave” included the folks who were chattel? I assume you do, since you keep saying “everyone”, “no one”, and so on depending on what side of the “it was all about peace and if they’d just left Confederacy alone, it would’ve been fine” fence you are arguing on. At what point do you think the enslaved among the “people who wanted to leave” might have been freed? 1910? Yesterday? 10 years from now? At what point would this keeping this “peace” have been OK since we “no longer do this sort of thing”? When someone threw a shoe at a TV? What’s a shoe and a TV got to do with the Civil War anyway? This is whatabout-ism of the highest order. Congrats to the non-government school on that front on your behalf. Croats, Slavs, the Soviet Union, Northern Ireland, and any historical conflict are all just like 1860-era US where we treated humans as chattel in some parts of the country…..I’ll be darned. The unified theory of history has emerged right here. Poorly educated indeed. Spare us the Nazi comparisons….look up Godwin’s law. Got that box checked here.

          Who knew, now we find out, this was all Abe Lincoln’s fault and the war was about peace and this whole slavery thing is just some government school con game. Learn something new every day. “Democratic vote”….got it. Let’s see….Dred Scott…1857….”black people are not citizens”, more or less. Think they got a vote in your gauzy view of this non-event where everyone sang “Kumbaya” and then wanted to go their merry way because of some disagreement about, oh, say, low taxes, mules, crop subsidies, or whatever the conservative view of history dictates? The slaveholding states thought any “vote” was swell, so they could “democratically” ensure that….only some votes count of course. Where do you come up with this stuff? The war was about peace and it’s all Abe Lincoln’s fault that there was both a war and “carnage”? Trump university non-government school alumni, dare I ask? This is a revisionist fantasy land you are portraying where the south was this innocent victim and slavery was some vague non-issue in this tragedy.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          1. The war was about Abe Lincoln and his friends conjuring up a rule, law, etc. from somewhere or other that once a territory or former British/Spanish/French colony joined the Union it could not freely choose to leave and the seceding states wanting their freedom and being willing to fight for that freedom. No different from what has taken place all through human history up to today. I don’t know where you come up with this “The war was about peace.” That’s silly and I don’t say silly things.

          2. Your selectively applying 2021 morality to 1860 is what gets you and other Abe Lincoln fans in trouble every time. The slaves were mostly members of tribes that were made slaves by other African tribes and sold by the latter to Arabs who intern sold them to the slave traders who bought them as slaves into the Western Hemisphere. Other than the small minority of fanatical abolitionists no one in 1860 dreamed that the slaves should vote about anything so hypothesizing how slaves would have voted is irrelevant to this discussion of whether or not the carnage in the War Between the States was necessary or justified.

          3. I am of the opinion that the slaves would have been freed in a very short period of time as they were all over the world by about 1890 without a bloody war being fought because (1) there were even in 1860 voices in the south who questioned the morality of slavery, (2) there were slave uprisings in the south that could only be expected to continue, (3) the industrial revolution was already taking place that made labor by sullen slaves less and less economically viable, (4) abolitionists could be expected to continue to infiltrate the south and encourage slaves to escape to the north and slave uprisings, (5) with the exception of wealthy plantation owners the south was a poor backwater compared to the north and that disparity could only be expected to grow so eventually many if not all of the seceding states of the south would have asked to rejoin the United States as slavery became less important and the end of slavery would have been their part of their re-entry fee. (Of course, this assumes slavery would have ended in states like Maryland, Kentucky etc that were not able/chose not to secede.)

          4. If you scroll back you will see you are the one who first brought up the comparison of the southern states wanting to secede and Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch at 4:02 PM yesterday. Rarely do I bring up trite comparisons between Hitler this and Hitler that with whatever happens to be spoken about so I don’t blame you David for wanting to pin the Hitler stuff on me.

          The War Between the States was simply a war where a government decided to oppress a group of people who wanted their freedom. Ole Abe Lincoln fans want to make it a war to end slavery but it was no such thing. It was simply a war where a central government wanted to maintain its jurisdiction over all portions of its territory vs. the desire of a people in a portion of that territory to leave. No different from the desires of many people today to break away from the country in which they find themselves. The difference is that today, just as we no longer have slavery, we no longer fight bloody wars to prevent secessions, and we shouldn’t celebrate or glorify either slavery or wars of oppression in the past.

      • Avatar
        James White says:

        The was was wanted by people that wanted to separate the country and divide it to make them more easily to be invaded or brought to war when needed.
        As far as Lincoln is concerned, let him speak for himself:
        “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and
        political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters
        or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition
        to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races
        living together on terms of social and political equality.
        And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much
        as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that
        because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
        ABRAHAM LINCOLN -September 18, 1858 – Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois

        “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union
        without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing
        some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save
        the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe
        what I am doing hurts the cause,and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.”
        -ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AUGUST 22, 1862 – Letter to Horace Greeley

  • Pingback: Wednesday, February 17

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    Stuart, You are so far right, no one can explain anything to you with your racists & bigoted beliefs. We might not have humans chained to the walls when not working but the US still has a long way to go with inequality between races. You think all is fine. Inequality rears it’s ugly head in every aspect of life in the USA. We have a long way to go and it just makes the journey tougher when society has to drag along and try to enlighten conservatives that live in Bliss in that “revisionist fantasyland that Stuart lives in” as Paul said.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      OOOOOOO Taxpayer, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Whenever a leftist like you takes out that ole race card and slams it on the table when the discussion has nothing to do with race and your fundamental dislike of this country percolates to the surface I know that all rational thought has been suspended, at least for a while, and what is to follow ain’t gonna be pretty.

      Facts always get in the way of emotional emoting and striking the correct attitude that leftists find so important to their psychological well being. The United States is imperfect as is all human existence but it’s a hell of lot better than any other country on earth of reasonable size or population (Monaco, Lichtenstein or even Switzerland might be better). When we have to worry about keeping people in this country rather than keeping people, most especially those “of color.” out I might take a minute or two to reevaluate that opinion.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Stuart, I only “slam the race card” when it absolutely fits, I don’t like using the race card because it means I am discussing race again with an opponent that is handicapped and does not learn from History. It really does get old trying to argue with you and your dead-end conservative thinking. Being the best country in the world does not even fit into this discussion but I do agree with you there. I have traveled and lived in many countries and know exactly where the USA sits. I have witnessed first hand the damage that ultra conservatives do to the diplomacy of the USA but “diplomacy” has never been a strong point of the republican or conservative thinking.

    • Avatar
      Perry Aubric says:

      Stuart always screams like a stick little Nazi pig every time someone calls him in his racism. He is an unAmerican anti-democracy plutocrat and racist who has never done an honest day of work in his life, spent his time shuffling money from one account to another in a foreign-owned money management firm, and actually thinks he has influence because he blockages ad nauseum in this blog site. A sad irrelevant nonentity.

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    Reminder: Slatery is the highest paid Attorney General of any state. Are we getting our money’s worth??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *