Oklahoma State Question 752 (2010)

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Oklahoma State Question 752, or the Judicial Nominating Commission Act, was on the November 2, 2010 state ballot in Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would add two at-large members to the Judicial Nomination Commission. Senators Patrick Anderson and Clark Jolley and Representative Daniel Sullivan authored the bill. The measure was approved. Approveda[1][2]

Aftermath

The measure took effect on November 9, 2010, and on that day, Judicial Nominating Commission chairman Allen Smallwood requested a legal opinion from the Oklahoma Attorney General to figure out how the commission should go forward since the measure passed. Smallwood stated that some could argue that the commission's decisions are not valid until two new members are added, and also brought up the question of whether three current members on the commission can continue their duties since they are married to lawyers. According to Smallwood, "The last thing we want to do is go through the selection process and have someone question whether our membership is legal." The legal opinion from the AG could take up to two weeks.[3]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official election results of the measure follow:

Question 752 (Judicial Nomination Commission)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 606,805 62.83%
No358,92537.17%

Results via the Oklahoma Election Board.

Text of amendment

Ballot title

The ballot title that voters saw on the ballot read:[4]

This measure amends a section of the Oklahoma Constitution. It amends Section 3 of Article 7-B. The measure deals with the Judicial Nomination Commission. This Commission selects nominees to be appointed judges or justices, when a vacancy occurs. The Commission selects three, sometimes four, qualified nominees. The Governor must appoint one of the nominees.

The amendment adds two at-large members to the Commission. At-large members can come from any Oklahoma congressional district. The Senate President Pro Tempore appoints one of the new at-large members. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints the other. At-large members can not be lawyers. Nor can they have a lawyer in their immediate family. Nor can more than two at-large members be from the same political party.

Six non-at-large members are appointed by the Governor. They cannot be Oklahoma lawyers. The measure adds a new qualification for non-lawyer members. They can not have a lawyer from any state in their immediate family. Each congressional district must have at least one non-lawyer member.

Six lawyer members are elected by members of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Each congressional district must have a least one lawyer member.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal

Yes: __________

Against the proposal

No: __________

Summary

The summary of the measure read:[5]

This measure amends a section of the Oklahoma Constitution. It amends Section 3 of Article 7-B. The measure deals with the Judicial Nomination Commission. This Commission selects nominees to be appointed judges or justices, when a vacancy occurs. The Commission selects three, sometimes four, qualified nominees. The Governor must appoint one of the nominees.
The amendment adds two at-large members to the Commission. At-large members can come from any Oklahoma congressional district. The Senate President Pro Tempore appoints one of the new at-large members. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints the other. At-large members can not be lawyers. Nor can they have a lawyer in their immediate family. Nor can more than two at-large members be from the same political party.
Six non-at-large members are appointed by the Governor. They cannot be Oklahoma lawyers. The measure adds a new qualification for non-lawyer members. They can not have a lawyer from any state in their immediate family. Each congressional district must have at least one non-lawyer member.
Six lawyer members are elected by members of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Each congressional district must have a least one lawyer member.

Constitutional changes

Oklahoma State Question 752 (2010), Constitutional text changes

SQ 752 was proposed to amend Article VII-B, Section 3 of the Oklahoma Constitution.[2]

Support

  • There was no known supporting campaign for the measure.

Opposition

  • There was no known opposing campaign against the measure.

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Oklahoma ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Oklahoman recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure, stating, "The measure also would prohibit any of the gubernatorial or legislative appointments from having immediate family members who are lawyers and prohibits more than two at-large members from the same political party. The proposal at least serves to dilute the influence of lawyers on the selection list while preserving the governor as the ultimate authority."[6]
  • The Enid News and Eagle recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure, stating, "This measure expands the Judicial Nominating Commission, a body which narrows the list of potential judges for vacancies on the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Appeals, district and associate district judges and the Worker’s Compensation Court, with the governor making the final decision. This adds two more members who are not lawyers to the commission, with these new members being appointed by the House and Senate legislative leaders."[7]
  • The Oklahoma Daily was for the measure, stating, "If passed, this measure would add two members to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which helps the governor choose potential judges to fill empty seats on a number of state courts. This will weaken the influence of lawyers — often appointed by friends and family — on the commission. Sounds good to us."[8]
  • The Tulsa Beacon made recommendations for all the state questions on the ballot, and recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure.[9]

Opposition

  • The Tulsa World was against the measure, recommending a 'no' vote: "The measure’s impact is very modest, but it would shift some patronage from the Oklahoma Bar Association to the leaders of the state Legislature. The proposal would needlessly tinker with a system that has served the state well and it should be rejected."[10]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • In one of the last polls taken by SoonerPoll before the general election, the results showed support of the measure by those surveyed. The poll included 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents.[11]


Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
October 18-23, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 45% 30% 25% 753

Litigation

An attempt to block Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry from appointing a new state Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Marian Opala was rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on January 3, 2011. The legal challenge, filed by State Senator Clark Jolley, also sought to make sure that the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission not act on the vacancy in the high court until the commission was formed the way SQ 752's provisions intended. The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the attempt to block the appointment on February 15,2011.[12][13]

Path to the ballot

The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. (However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.) Oklahoma is one of ten states that allows a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state's legislature.

See also

External links

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References