Defenders of Fair Courts Face Ongoing Legislative Attacks in Oklahoma

Defenders of fair and impartial courts in Oklahoma will face multiple attacks when the state House considers next year several Senate-passed reform measures.

A Tulsa World column by Republican state Sen. Clark Jolley, an advocate of reform, lists key Senate-passed measures to be considered:

  • A proposed constitutional amendment that would gut the role of a judicial nominating commission and give the governor greater influence in picking judges, and it would make his appointments subject to state Senate confirmation (see Gavel Grab).
  • A proposed constitutional amendment that sets a single, 20-year term for appellate judges and eliminates retention (up-or-down) elections currently held under Oklahoma’s merit selection system.
  • A measure taking away from the state Supreme Court the power to name its chief justice and giving that power to the governor (Gavel Grab has background).

Jolley’s column was published in a period when there is speculation that a special legislative session may be asked to consider judicial term limits.

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