Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to discuss the upcoming Epoch Times debate and the lack of transparency on candidates vying for Tennessee’s state attorney general.
Leahy: In-studio with the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report and our lead political reporter at The Tennessee Star on the web at tennesseestar.com. So just a reminder, Aaron, you’re going to be covering the event tonight, the big Epoch Times 5th Congressional District Republican candidate debate.
It’s going to be downtown. You can get tickets, free tickets. Go to Eventbrite. Just plug in The Epoch Times debate. Also sponsored by Young Republicans of Nashville and the Nashville Republican Women.
Two of the major candidates are dodging the debate – Beth Harwell and retired Brigadier General Kurt Winstead. Three will be there.
Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County. Jeff Beierlein, a former major in the army and combat veteran, and Trace Wittum, the State Senate aide.
So they’ll be there, but Winstead and Harwell will not be there. It’s going to have an unusual format. It’s going to be livestreamed across the nation by The Epoch Times, and subject matter experts, including Carol Swain on education, Gordon Chang on China, and Hans von Spakovsky on election integrity will be there.
It should be quite an interesting event. You’ll be there. You’ll be covering and reporting it. I’ll be there just observing and learning.
So there’s that. Can you give us an update on the process by which the Tennessee Supreme Court is going about identifying and making public information available about the candidates they are considering for the next attorney general of the State of Tennessee?
The constitution gives the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a very unusual way – only state in the union where it’s done – the attorney general of the state is selected by the Supreme Court, which of course is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly.
Herb Slatery, the current attorney general, said he’s not going to go for another eight-year term. We’re at July 12th. We have no idea what the Supreme Court is doing on this. Do you call them like every day? And what do they say?
Gulbransen: Crickets, that’s what they say. They say nothing. Back in May, we reached out and they said the information would be forthcoming. We spoke with their press department over at the state Supreme Court. They said the information will be forthcoming in a couple of weeks. And now we are here on July 12th and we still hear nothing.
Leahy: Crickets, this Tennessee Supreme Court, and this is an example of the constitutional flaw that we have in the Tennessee Constitution that gives one branch of government exclusively the ability to appoint a very important job in the executive branch, which really shouldn’t have anything to do with the judicial branch, the attorney general’s office.
And yet institutionally, the Tennessee Supreme Court is jealously guarding this prerogative embedded in our constitution and frankly, they’re not providing transparency to the process. Why do Tennesseans care about it?
Well, because the attorney general is an important job and the attorney general should fight aggressively for the Tenth Amendment rights of the state of Tennessee and for every Tennessee citizen against the ongoing encroachments of the national federal government.
Gulbransen: And I think that recent issues created by the Biden administration – of course, they tried to implement a nationwide vaccine mandate for people working for companies that had a hundred or more people, things like that – have put the attorney general’s role of each state in the country under an increased microscope.
So I’m also seeing an undercurrent of people who are calling for the General Assembly to hold advisory, informal hearings on the next attorney general in order to give the public a chance to sort of vet this.
Again, that would be informal and advisory. But the public and their representatives, it is very fair to wonder how the next attorney general or the applicants for that job would answer questions on federal overreach.
I would be interested since I’ve reported a lot on it. Would they take up the cause of the National Guardsmen and sue the federal government?
Leahy: Herb Slatery is not taking up their charge.
Gulbransen: No. And they won’t comment on that one either, by the way.
Leahy: Yeah, so this is all not good, and it’s lacking transparency in this instance. We’re calling for checks and balances institutionally, which are not embedded in the constitution. The Supreme Court.
The Tennessee Supreme Court is resisting that. The governor is not commenting on it. The person who is rumored to be the rubber stamp that the governor wants, who is a center-left judge and now Chief Operating Officer of the state, Brandon Gibson, is not commenting on what her philosophy is.
I have some interesting news, though, that just developed. If you look at this, Aaron, what we find is, although the Tennessee State Constitution specifies the manner by which the attorney general and reporter – only statewide, the attorney general and reporter – essentially the clerk of the Supreme Court, is that the reporter duties, the process by which that person is selected, is exclusively the province of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The duties and responsibilities of the attorney general do not lie in the Supreme Court. They are actually defined by statute; that is, by the Tennessee General Assembly.
And just as the Tennessee General Assembly provides those duties and responsibilities, it could, and might, take those duties away.
Gulbransen: So all the more reason for them to have an advisory capacity, at the very least in order to help select the next attorney general, since they can, to paraphrase what you just said, they can give it, and they can take away the responsibilities.
Leahy: Well, and they could create a new position, as was suggested here yesterday in the studio by John Harris.
The Tennessee General Assembly could remove almost all of the duties of the attorney general. They could keep the reporter’s duties to be the clerk of the Supreme Court and could create a new position.
John Harris suggested the solicitor general of the state of Tennessee. Give all the duties to represent the state of Tennessee and all the personnel could move it over to this new job, the solicitor general, and then the people would have an input into the philosophy of the person representing the interests of the state of Tennessee. That was a suggestion from John Harris.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.