The Tennessee Plan is a system of judicial appointment used in Tennessee. Under this system, the governor of Tennessee fills vacancies occurring on the Tennessee Supreme Court and the State Court of Appeals due to the death, resignation, or impeachment and removal of a sitting judge. 
The governor must select from a list of three potential nominees chosen by a commission, currently composed of 17 members - appointed by the Speakers of the House and Senate - the makeup of which intends to be bipartisan and representative of minorities, with members representing both the legal community and the citizenry at large. 
If the governor rejects all of the persons nominated by the commission, he can then order the commission to prepare a new list of three other prospective nominees. When this occurs, the governor must make a selection from this second list. 
The person chosen by the governor then begins service on the court; at the first statewide general election following his or her appointment the person's name is placed before the public on the ballot on a simple yes-no basis retention vote. If a majority of voters decides this question in the negative, the process outlined above starts over. Every eight years, all members of all of the appellate courts of Tennessee are subjected to this process as well. All appellate judges are subjected to this process on a statewide basis, not just in the "Grand Division" from which they are appointed.
A separate, 12-member panel reviews the record of incumbent judges and makes its results public approximately six weeks prior to the retention elections held at the beginning of each full eight-year judicial term and reports its recommendations. This report gives the panel's rationale for its recommendations based on the public record of each of the judges and an interview process in which potential areas for improvement are noted. The report summarizes these findings and notes the vote by which judge was recommended (or, theoretically, not recommended) for retention, although not how each individual commissioner voted. This report is then published in the state's major metropolitan newspapers. 
Provisions of the Tennessee Plan were set to expire in 2008 unless reauthorized by the Tennessee Legislature. According to A Report on Reauthorization of the Tennessee Plan, there are strong arguments for letting the entire Plan expire:
- At the time the current constitutional provision was written in 1870, the idea of a retention referendum for public officials was unknown in the United States. Thus, it was impossible for the authors of the Constitution to have intended such a device when they required all judges to be "elected by the qualified voters" of the state. This answers supporters of retention elections who argue that this is method is consistent with the constitution.
- Although the Tennessee Plan might produce judges who are more independent from the public, it may do so only by producing judges who are more dependent on the special lawyer's organizations that control the list of nominations from which the Governor must appoint the judges. This answers supporters of the "merit system" who argue that partisan elections aren't as effective as the "merit system" at creating an independent judiciary.