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An independent judicial branch is important for every Oklahoman regardless of political party

Joe Ervin
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Professional Trial Attorney Representing the Victims of Car, Truck, and Bus Accidents in the State of Oklahoma
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The Oklahoma Legislature is listening to corporate America, and trying to politicize our State Courts. In the last legislative session several ideas were considered to bring the judicial branch under the control of the legislative and/or executive branches of the State Government. The drumbeat behind these efforts belongs to the State and National Chamber's of Commerce. These ideas include, term limits for Supreme Court Justices, legislative control over the nomination of new judges, reduction in judicial pay and/or retirement, and super majorities required to retain judges.

 

The goal is to replace a non-partisan process with one guaranteed to deliver judges who are more business friendly. Constitutionality aside, term limits for Supreme Court justices is a poor idea. Limiting terms for our highest court undermines its mission and introduces big money politics to what should be an insulated branch of government. The Court is supposed to be steady and dependable, the constant addition and removal of justices, and judges with less and less experience will not help. Likewise, it’s a bad idea to succumb to changes sought by Oklahoma’s Republican leadership about how and how often state Supreme Court judges are named to the bench.

 

The Court's of this State are the place we stand equal with corporate America. If we lose that equality we will never get it back. Corporations and the campaign dollars they produce control partisan politics. Do you believe corporations need more protections. Do you believe that corporations should select our judges. The Judicial Branch serves to protect the rights of individuals and to resolve disputes arising under the law. Every Oklahoman, from every political party, should join the call to keep partisan politics out of our Court system. Our judges our selected by a non-partisan judicial nominating commission, and the Governor. Our Supreme Court Justices must be retained by a majority of voters in the state at the end of each term of office. This method has been in place since 1907, and has served us well under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Its not broken.

 

Oklahoma deserves an impartial and vibrant judicial system, free from political influence and money. The Chamber of Commerce is trying to rig the process, and give corporate America control over the civil justice system. They should be ashamed of trying, but if we let them do it, shame on us.

 
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