Gov. Lee names successor to retiring Tennessee Supreme Court justice


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday that he has selected Mary L. Wagner to fill an upcoming vacancy on the state Supreme Court.

The Republican governor picked Wagner, a circuit court judge in Shelby County, which includes Memphis. The seat is currently filled by Justice Roger Page, who plans to retire on Aug. 31.

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Page’s retirement gave Lee a chance to appoint his third justice on the five-member court. The five current justices were all appointed by Republican governors.

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Wagner previously was an associate at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis School of Law. Former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam appointed her as a circuit court judge in 2016. She was elected in 2018 and reelected in 2022.

“Mary is a highly qualified judge who will bring significant experience to the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Lee said in a news release. “Her understanding and respect for the rule of law and commitment to the conservative principles of judicial restraint make her well-suited for the state’s highest court, and I am proud to appoint her to this position.”

Earlier this month, the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments named Wagner and Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judges J. Ross Dyer and Camille R. McMullen as finalists for the Supreme Court opening.

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In Tennessee, the governor’s picks for Supreme Court must also be confirmed by state lawmakers. Republicans have supermajority control in both legislative chambers. Additionally, Supreme Court justices face “yes-no” retention elections every eight years. Voters retained Page and the other four justices at the time during the 2022 election.



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