close
close

Trump stays in office as Tennessee Attorney General refuses to comment on felons being placed on ballot • Tennessee Lookout

Trump stays in office as Tennessee Attorney General refuses to comment on felons being placed on ballot • Tennessee Lookout

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office is declining to comment on a request from a lawmaker seeking to determine whether former President Donald Trump can be placed on the state’s ballot this fall following his conviction for a felony.

In a letter to Democratic Rep. Vincent Dixie of Nashville requesting a formal legal opinion, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said that after careful consideration, his office could not provide an opinion based on state law on voting rights.

“The Attorney General’s statutory authority is limited to issuing ‘written legal opinions’ on matters referred by public officials “in the performance of their official duties.”Skrmetti’s office notes, “And it is Tennessee election officials – not individual members of the General Assembly – who enforce (state law) on specific issues.”

Tennessee’s Secretary of State, who oversees elections throughout the state, is not elected by the people but appointed by the General Assembly.

This just underscores the broken criminal justice system in this country. There is no reasonable explanation as to how someone can be elected president in this state when if that same person lived in Tennessee, they wouldn’t even be able to cast their ballot and vote.

– Rep. Vincent Dixie, Democrat, Nashville

Dixie said in a statement he was “disappointed” but “not surprised” by the attorney general’s response. He made the request after the former president was convicted in recent months in New York on 34 counts of violating economic law by bribing porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged sexual encounter before the 2016 presidential election.

“It just shows how broken the criminal justice system is in this country,” Dixie said. “There is no reasonable explanation for how someone from this state can be elected president, and if that same person lived in Tennessee, they wouldn’t even be able to vote. How does that make sense?”

Two years ago, Trump won about 68 percent of the vote in Tennessee against Democratic President Joe Biden.

In his letter to Skrmetti, Dixie pointed out that state law states: “Any person who has been convicted of any infamous crime in this State…or who has been convicted under the laws of the United States or of any other State of any offense which, if committed in this State, would amount to an infamous crime, shall be disqualified from running for, or from holding, any public office in this State, unless the civil rights of such person have been restored by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

However, the attorney general’s letter states that Dixie’s letter is “based on a false premise” and that state law regarding “public office in this state” includes the office of the U.S. president. However, the office is not a public office in Tennessee, it says.

Attorney General Matt Rice’s letter states that “any attempt by a state to establish new qualifications for the U.S. president would raise serious constitutional questions.” He is referring to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in which all nine justices held that states cannot establish qualifications for the office of U.S. president.

Dixie’s request to the attorney general might have been moot regardless of the response. Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office told the Lookout shortly after Dixie’s request that Trump was the Republican Party’s nominee for the Tennessee election and that voters would “make their decision in the upcoming election.”