Governor Prevails In Court Fight Over Supreme Court Justices

Nashville (AP) -- Governor Bredesen has a Supreme Court victory in a dispute over appointing justices to the high court.

The state's highest court ruled Wednesday in favor of Bredesen, sustaining a ruling by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle. She had ruled in December that J. Houston Gordon and George "Buck" Lewis weren't eligible for a second panel of finalists after the governor rejected the first slate they were on.

Bredesen last summer threw out the first panel of candidates submitted by the commission after the only minority candidate, Davidson County Chancellor Richard Dinkins, withdrew for family reasons.

Bredesen told the commission he wanted the panel to include qualified minority candidates. When the Judicial Selection Commission sent him a second panel that included Gordon, the governor sued. His suit claimed the panel's repeated nomination of a rejected Supreme Court candidate diminishes his ability to choose the best person for the job.

Under the Tennessee plan for judicial selection adopted in 1994, if the governor rejects the first panel of three nominees, he must select one of the nominees in the second panel.

The Supreme Court rejected arguments that two candidates were unfairly treated because they were white.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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