Editor’s note. In 2014, voters in Tennessee added “Amendment 1” to the state Constitution. The key wording is in the beginning: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The following excerpt comes from a post by Tennessee Right to Life, NRLC’s state affiliate
“We obviously disagree with the federal court’s decision…Simply put, deciding what vote is required to amend the Tennessee Constitution is a matter of state law to be determined by a Tennessee Court.” — Harlow Sumerford, spokesman for Attorney General’s Office.
Tennessee Right to Life expresses gratitude to the many public officials who are working tirelessly to defend the outcome of Amendment 1 and the right of Tennesseans to cast their votes according to their conscience.
In particular, pro-life Tennesseans owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Bill Haslam, Attorney General Herbert Slatery, Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins and state Senator Randy McNally for making defense of the election a true priority.
Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the state is appealing the wrong ruling issued last Friday by federal Judge Kevin Sharp. Sharp ordered election officials to count only those votes for or against the amendment that were cast by voters who also voted in the governor’s race. Other pro-life votes in favor of Amendment 1 are to be thrown out, according to Sharp’s ruling.
This decision came just a day after state court Judge Michael Binkley ruled in a separate lawsuit that the state’s historic manner of counting votes and ratifying proposed amendments is constitutional according to the Tennessee Constitution, thus upholding the outcome of Amendment 1.
“Article XI, Section 3, does not restrict or precondition the right of a citizen to vote for or against a constitutional amendment upon that citizen also voting in the gubernatorial election,” Binkley wrote in his decision.
An appeal likely puts the demand for a recount on hold while the case works through the process. Election officials across the state, however, must continue to prepare for the possibility of recounting the votes should a court require it.
Pro-abortion attorney Dewey Branstetter, responding to The Tennessean, criticized the Attorney General’s action.
“…it is disappointing that they would continue to litigate this case when (the federal judge) has so clearly determined how this portion of the constitution should be interpreted and how the state’s interpretation would violate our [pro-abortion] clients’ constitutional rights.”