Pro-Life Amendment Vote Count Comes Under Fire From Planned Parenthood


In 2014, Tennessee voters added “Amendment 1” to the state Constitution. The key wording was in the beginning: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

Eight voters, including a board chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, challenged the outcome, in which Amendment 1 passed 53 percent to 47 percent.

The process was upheld on April 21, 2016 by Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley, who said the language for how votes for amendments should be counted is “unambiguous.”

However, subsequently, federal judge Kevin Sharp agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered a recount. That decision has been on hold for a year

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the challengers’ arguments.

Judge Brinkley wrote “Article XI, Section 3, (of the Tennessee Constitution) does not restrict or precondition the right of a citizen to vote for or against a constitutional amendment upon that citizen voting in the gubernatorial election.” The issue before the panel was not whether the votes were counted in a way different than they had been traditionally but rather whether that the method was unfair, as Judge Sharp concluded it was.