The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 18, 2014

There’s no need to fix system that’s working

NORMAN — Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just a few days.

We’re not sure the real motivation behind the current legislation but can’t help but think it is tied to recent state court rulings that overturned new laws.

The courts, with judges that run on non-partisan, retention ballots, found laws to be unconstitutional. That’s the way the system is supposed to operate. The legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch carries them out and the judiciary reviews them to make sure they meet the fairness test.

Changes proposed would add a political element to what has been a neutral process. It strips the bar association members of its constitutional duty to elect six attorney members of the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. The attorneys are elected by the members of the bar from the six congressional districts that existed when the courts were reformed after a scandal in 1967.

Instead, under the proposed legislation, the six would be lawyers appointed by the Speaker of the state House and the Pro Tem of the state Senate. The 15 members are not compensated and review candidates to fill all judicial vacancies. They submit recommendations to the governor for appointment.

Some lawmakers also want to put term limits on judges in much the same manner they are term-limited. Voters have the power to term limit any elected official through the ballot box.

Efforts by the state’s legislative leadership to change the system would be damaging to the independent judiciary we now enjoy. We encourage lawmakers to redirect their energy to issues where a problem exists.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • State, local jobmarkets look up

    A tight labor market is often a big problem for economic development professionals. They need to be able to promise companies that there are willing workers in the community’s labor pool....

    July 26, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • James Garner will be missed

    Editor, The Transcript: Norman native son James Garner was a fine actor on stage, screen and television. I enjoyed the “Maverick” TV series and, in particular, the 1959 episode “The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill” in which the very popular ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014