Judiciary

As ads for and against 3 Tennessee justices flood the airwaves, a retention candidate hits the road


More than a half dozen ads are hitting the airwaves with varying portrayals of three Tennessee justices facing a retention election on Aug. 7.

One ad seeking the defeat of Justices Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee says they are “liberal on crime.” Another says the justices, appointed by a former Democratic governor, are “liberal on the Obama agenda.”

On the other side, an ad urging retention says the justices protected the Second Amendment right to bear arms and upheld nearly 90 percent of death sentences. Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice list and link to the ads. The Knoxville News Sentinel and the New York Times Taking Note blog have stories.

Spending on TV contracts for the ads has topped $400,000, say Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center, citing records from the Federal Communications Commission.

Clark took her campaign to the voters in Sumner County on Tuesday in an event sponsored by the county bar association. According to the Tennessean, she spoke to “a crowd of more than 40 people.” She also traveled to three other locations the same day, including Clarksville, where her address to the Kiwanis was covered by the Leaf-Chronicle.

Clark told spectators in Sumner County that “we’re in a battle of sorts,” according to the Tennessean accounts. “There are people inside the state and outside the state and for whatever reasons they would like to choose judges on the basis of some other consideration than their application of the law to the facts,” she said.

One of the groups funding the attack ads is the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a network of conservative groups founded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, according to the Memphis Business Blog.

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