MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It is gratifying to know that the newest member of Tennessee’s Supreme Court will do the correct and ethical thing by recusing herself in a case that she helped defend as a state attorney.
Sarah Campbell was confirmed earlier this month to the state’s highest court after by nominated by Gov. Bill Lee. Before joining the court, Campbell was associate solicitor general in the attorney general’s office. And she represented the administration in several key cases – including Lee’s controversial school voucher bill that passed in the legislature but was overturned in lower courts.
The cynic in me wonders if Lee appointed Campbell partly because she would be a reliable vote in favor of the voucher law, which will be heard by the supreme court Thursday. If so, Campbell is having none of it. During her confirmation hearing in early February, she gave indications that she might recuse herself on that and other cases she handled for the state, even though Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and other Republicans insisted her recusal was unnecessary. So much for their views on ethics.
Tuesday, Campbell made it official. She will not participate in deciding the outcome of the school voucher bill, which without question is the right move. Campbell understands that she is no longer an advocate. She is an impartial arbiter who is bound by the law. And shame on any lawmaker who thinks otherwise.