Tennessee Supreme Court
Missouri Plan (No Role for Bar)
5 Justices
30 day minimum initial terms, 8 year full terms
State High Court & Council for Judicial Appointments Composition & Terms of Council for Judicial Appointments* Judicial Selection Process Legal Authority
    11 members:

  • All members appointed by the Governor.
    • 3 members shall be appointed from each of the state’s 3 grand divisions, and the remaining 2 members shall be appointed at-large.
    • At least 8 of the members shall be lawyers.

Terms: Council members serve 2-year terms and are eligible to serve a total of 2 terms (or 1 full term if appointed to fill a vacancy). The Council members are divided into 3 staggered classes.


  • After being notified of a vacancy, the Council for Judicial Appointments holds a public meeting and conducts interviews of judicial applicants.
  • The Council votes on 3 names to submit to the Governor within sixty days of being notified of the vacancy.
  • The Governor may select one of the 3 nominees or request an additional panel of 3 nominees, which the Council must provide within 45 days.
  • Within 60 days of receipt of the second panel, the Governor shall select a name from among the six total nominees submitted by the Council.
  • If the Council fails to submit nominees in the required time, the Governor shall appoint a licensed and qualified individual of his or her choice.
  • The Legislature must confirm or reject the chosen nominee.
  • At the end of a Judge’s term the Judge will be subject to a statewide retention election and will continue for another term if the Judge is retained.

Interim Vacancies

  • Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the Governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state.
  • Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session.

* Council established pursuant to Executive Order

Percentage of Lawyers on the Council for Judicial Appointments

Who Selects the Nominating Commissioners?
  • Judicial Election

    Judges are elected by popular vote.
  • Democratic Appointment

    Judges are appointed directly by a democratic body, or appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of some democratic body.