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Attorney General Slatery decides against bid to fill Tennessee Supreme Court vacancy


NASHVILLE, Tennessee — State Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced Tuesday he won't apply to fill a vacancy on Tennessee's Supreme Court.

Slatery is a longtime friend and adviser to Gov. Bill Haslam on legal and spiritual matters, and would have been a heavy favorite for the Republican governor's appointment had he chosen to apply.

But Slatery in a statement noted that he is less than a year into his eight-year term as attorney general and that to "take another position in a few months would be to leave a job unfinished."

"Changing directions in midstream and applying for another position feels like it is more about me than it should be at this point," he said.

Slatery had declined to divulge his plans for more than six weeks following Justice Gary Wade's retirement announcement. And Slatery carried that silence through the official opening of the application process on Thursday.

The application period runs through Oct. 12, after which Haslam will be sent a list of three finalists to choose from.

Voters last year approved a constitutional change to give the General Assembly the power to reject the governor's nominees, but the House and Senate couldn't agree on a method before adjourning last spring. If they can't resolve their differences, any gubernatorial appointment would be considered approved within 60 days of the Jan. 12 start of the session.

With Slatery out of the running, more attorneys and judges are expected to show interest in seeking the high court spot.

Potential Supreme Court applicants must hail from either the eastern or western sections of the state, as there are already two justices from Middle Tennessee — the maximum the state constitution allows for any one of the state's three grand divisions.

The constitution also bans state lawmakers from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

The governor's two appointments to the Supreme Court so far — Jeff Bivins and Holly Kirby — previously served as state appeals judges.

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