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Judge upholds pro-life Tennessee Amendment 1

On Thursday, Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley rejected pro-abortion advocates’ efforts to invalidate Tennessee’s Amendment 1, which clarifies that the state Constitution contains no right to abortion.

Abortion advocates had challenged the law, which voters enacted in 2014, on an interpretation of the state requirements for constitutional amendments that claims the number of “yes” votes must be equal to or greater than the number of people voting for governor plus one, and therefore only voters who voted in the gubernatorial race should have their votes on the amendment counted.

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The state countered by arguing that Amendment 1 was ratified based on the exact same interpretation and criteria that Tennessee used for constitutional amendments over the past hundred years. Binkley agreed, calling the state’s language on amendment votes “unambiguous” and noting that the Constitution “does not precondition the right of a citizen to vote for or against a constitutional amendment upon that citizen also voting in a gubernatorial election.”

Opponents of Amendment 1 are still challenging Tennessee’s vote-counting methods as a violation of the US Constitution in federal court, and are awaiting a ruling from US District Judge Kevin Sharp.

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