Jus­tices fol­low the law

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OPINION -

“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

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