Justices follow the law
“Four state high court seats up for vote” (News, Oct. 29) listed cases in which the Legislature has criticized Supreme Court justices for having found statutes unconstitutional. I fear the implication may be that the reader should consider the purpose or intent of the law held unconstitutional and vote against retention of a justice, based on whether the reader believes that law would have been a good law. That would miss the function of the Supreme Court in determining constitutionality.
The Supreme Court doesn’t rule on a law based on whether it agrees with the wisdom of that law. Rather, it reviews laws to determine whether that law was passed in a way consistent with the Oklahoma Constitution, which the justices have taken an oath to support.
Most of the cases criticized by the Legislature invalidated laws for violating the “single subject rule” of the state constitution. That provision prevents “logrolling” (including in a piece of legislation more than one subject). Violation requires a legislator to vote for a provision on one subject to get passed another provision on a different subject in the same bill.
The justices may favor the proposal as a matter of policy but that isn’t what the court is asked to decide. It is unfair and contrary to the facts to suggest the justices should have someone vote against their retention for following the rule the constitution required them to follow.
Rex Travis, Oklahoma City