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Saturday, April 29th, 2017Last Update: Friday, February 3rd, 2017 01:39:14 PM

(Letter to the Editor)

By: Constitution Staff

State Judicial Misconduct

Much has been said and written, in many locations, about the "judicial activism" that has been repeatedly exhibited by the judges on the Federal benches, and with much justification. Now we have seen just such a blatant example of the same conduct by a majority of judges sitting on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. This was in the decision by a 7 - 2 majority to rule that a monument listing the "10 Commandments" could not remain on the grounds of the State Capitol. The "reasoning" stated was a provision in the State Constitution which is quoted as prohibiting the use of "public money" on a religious supporting purpose on State property. This was despite the truth that the monument was entirely paid for by one family, the head of which happens to be my State Representative, as well as a personal physician and flight surgeon. The original monument was destroyed by a deranged "anti-Christian' with a vehicle and replaced with a duplicate, again paid for by the family.

However, it has occurred to me that at least part of the fault must lie with the statutory system in place for choosing the judges. In my opinion, it is totally incestuous in that when there is a vacancy, five judge candidates are nominated by a committee made up of members of the Oklahoma Bar Association. The Governor then is required to nominate from those candidates. It seems to me that a more fair and proper committee make-up would be one or two members from the Bar, one named by each of the Legislature houses, and one by the chair of each of the political parties recognized by the state Election Board. This would give the PEOPLE more of an input in the matter.

Here are the judges and how they voted on the monument case

(the appointing Governor and appointment year are shown):

Yvonne Kauger 9 (George Nigh: 1984) Voted against Ten Commandments.

Joseph Watt (David Walters: 1992) Voted against Ten Commandments.

James Winchester (Frank Keating: 2000) Voted against Ten Commandments

James Edmondson (Brad Henry 2003) Voted against Ten Commandments

Steven Taylor (Brad Henry 2004) Voted against Ten Commandments

Tom Colbert (Brad Henry 2004) Dissented (for Ten Commandments)

John Reif (Brad Henry: 2007) Voted against Ten Commandments

Noma Gurich (Brad Henry 2010) Voted against Ten Commandments

Doug Combs (Brad Henry 2010) Dissented (for Ten Commandments)

Subsequent news stories indicated that talk had begun among Legislators about the possibility of mounting an impeachment challenge over this as a violation of their oath of office. However, it does not seem to be gaining as no more has been seen or heard. It is my opinion that this would be unwise, unless the votes were ASSURED in both houses to bring such charges to a successful conclusion. A failed attempt would, I fear, only serve to embolden those judges to further "legislate from the bench" and render even more, and worse, miscarriage of justice decisions.

Three of these justices faced retention votes in 2014: Douglas L. Combs, Steven. Taylor, and James Winchester. Based on this decision, a NO vote for Taylor and Winchester would be recommended. Unfortunately for Oklahoma citizens, there has yet to be an appointed judge not retained by vote. Last year a campaign was mounted to NOT retain Civil Appeals Judge Jane Wiseman, which drew the highest NO vote in history.

Robert W. McDowell, Jr.

Broken Arrow, OK

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