“The Tennessee Supreme Court should be applauded for taking this important step forward,” Bert Brandenburg, executive director of JAS, was quoted by Legal Newsline as saying. “Tennessee’s new, forward-looking rules will help ensure public faith in the court system, and provide a model for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Both JAS and one of its partner groups, the Brennan Center for Justice, had urged stronger recusal rules in Tennessee and also commended the high court’s recent action. The Legal Newsline report also noted the Brennan Center’s role.
Tennessee’s new Code of Judicial Conduct, enacted last week, prohibits judges from hearing cases involving campaign supporters in which “the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The code also requires judges to issue written explanations if they decline to step down from a case, and allows litigants to appeal a judge’s decision.
“States are finally paying attention,” James Sample, a professor at Hofstra Law School, told Reuters for an article about the Tennessee rules. He was alluding to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s invitation, in the landmark Caperton v. Massey ruling almost three years ago, for states to craft their own recusal rules and set a higher bar.
You can read Justice at Stake’s statement about the Tennessee recusal rules by clicking here.