Loading...

Ad Watch: TN Supreme Court Ads Make Questionable Claims

  • Play

Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Ad Watch: TN Supreme Court Ads Make Questionable Claims

By Phil Williams. CREATED Jul 15, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The ad wars have begun in the battle for control of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates checked the facts on the first round of advertisements and discovered questions about what both sides are saying.

The campaign for the three incumbent justices hit the air first with a positive TV spot that focused on their oath to support the state and federal constitutions "fairly and impartially."

Then it adds this: "And they kept their word - protecting individuals rights, the Second Amendment right to bear arms and upholding nearly 90 percent of death sentences."

Upholding 90 percent of death sentences? Based on court stats, that appears to check out.

As for the part saying that they have protected "the Second Amendment right to bear arms," we looked and could not find a single case where the Second Amendment was ever an issue.

A spokesperson insisted their oaths to the Constitution would include the Second Amendment, but this section talks about what they've done.

And even she could not point to a specific case.

Then, there's a mailer sent out by an opposition group, the Tennessee Forum. It urges Tennesseans to "drop the hammer on our liberal Supreme Court."

In big type, it says: "Working with Obama's campaign team? Refusing to fight Obamacare? That's not what Tennessee would call justice."

The fact is that one person hired for the justices' campaign used to work with Obama's campaign. That's the only tie that we found.

And what about the "refusing to fight Obamacare" claim?

The fact is that the Tennessee Supreme Court has never been asked to rule on Obamacare.

It is true that the Court selected Bob Cooper as attorney general back in 2006. That was two years before Obama was even elected.

And, in recent years, Cooper has refused to join in lawsuits against the president's health plan.

But, once selected, the attorney general is completely independent.

So when the headlines suggest that the justices are "refusing to fight Obamacare," that's just not true.

NewsChannel 5 will keep watching. 

Back to NC5 Investigates: The Politics of Justice
NewsChannel 5 Investigates

Phil Williams

Phil Williams

Email Facebook Twitter
Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.