U.S. Supreme Court Denies Request to Overturn Pro-Life Amendment 1
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' Unanimous Decision Stands
NASHVILLE, OCTOBER 1, 2018 - Responding to today’s announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding pro-life Amendment 1, Tennessee Right to Life offered the following comments:
"Today’s announcement is cause for great celebration among Tennessee’s pro-life movement,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “This is the culmination of many years work and Tennessee Right to Life is especially grateful to our state’s voters, legislators, election officials and Attorney General Slatery for staying the course. “
"The people’s voices have been heard and their votes have been counted," said Harris. "Now we have to continue to work for the day when every life is again protected by the laws of our state and nation.”
For most Tennessee voters, pro-life Amendment 1 was decided on November 4, 2014 when it was approved 53-47%. But several days later former Planned Parenthood board chair Tracey George joined 7 other pro-abortion activists in filing a legal challenge in Federal Court contesting the manner in which the state tabulated the votes and claiming discrimination against pro-abortion voters.
In April 2016, former U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp agreed with Planned Parenthood and demanded a recount of the votes. In his ruling, former Judge Sharp threatened to throw out the votes of those Tennesseans casting a vote on the Amendment but not having also voted in the 2014 governor's race.
Appealed by the Tennessee Attorney General, the case ultimately made its way to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which heard oral arguments in August of 2017. Tennessee Right to Life and YES on 1 coordinated a Friend of the Court brief containing the signatures of 8,850 Tennesseans urging the court to uphold their votes on the Amendment.
A three judge panel of the Sixth Circuit issued its unanimous ruling on January 9, 2018, in support of the vote count saying, "... it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people’s 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest."
Planned Parenthood activists immediately sought a re-hearing of the case before the full 6th Circuit which rejected the request. Tennessee's pro-abortion leaders had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their challenge of the people's pro-life vote on Amendment 1. On Monday, October 1, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case thereby leaving the lower court's decision in effect and affirming Amendment 1.