NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) -- Tennessee lawmakers continue to push for a change in how the state's attorney general is selected.
State Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, is one of many who wants the General Assembly, not the state Supreme Court, to pick the state's top lawyer.
Green shared his position with a legislative panel of the Utah State Senate via conference call Wednesday, The Leaf Chronicle reported.
Utah is considering making its attorney general an appointed post instead of an elected one -- more than likely because of the growing number of ethics complaints facing current Attorney General John Swallow.
Utah's Senate Committee on Government Operations sought out Green's input on the matter, according to the Chronicle.
According to the National Association of Attorneys General, the attorney general is popularly elected in 43 states, and is appointed by the governor in five states -- Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming -- and in the five jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
In the District of Columbia, the attorney general is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council.
However, that will change in 2015. At that time, the Attorney General's Office will become fully independent of mayoral control.
In 2010, a majority of voters favored the District's Home Rule Charter be amended to allow the election of an attorney general.
Tennessee is the only state that allows its high court to pick the attorney general.
In Maine, the attorney general is selected by secret ballot of the legislature, which is basically what Green wants Tennessee to do.
He, and other supporters of the change, contend it is a conflict of interest for an attorney general to argue cases before the court that picked him or her.
But opponents argue that the current system eliminates any political pressure.
"I do think it's a real conflict of interest for an AG to be appointed by a court that he tries cases in front of," Green told the Utah panel, according to the Chronicle.
"My frustration lies in the fact that the AG can essentially choose not to defend a law that we as legislators write, and yet he is essentially our lawyer. An example would be the AG's refusal to take on the Legislature's position against Obamacare or our attempt to remove state-based funds from Planned Parenthood."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.