Bill to change judicial selection process passes Senate
Oklahoma: Senate Bill 621 and Senate Joint Resolution 36 have passed the Oklahoma state senate by a vote of 30-14. The bill and measure work together to radically alter the judicial selection process in the state. The measure would eliminate the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission which makes judicial recommendations to fill vacancies. After the candidates are nominated by the commission they are sent to the governor for approval. The bill would retain the governor's ability to appoint judges, but would subject her choices to approval by the senate.
Some senators view the bill as part of the necessary checks and balances between branches of government. Senator Clark Jolley, who proposed the measure, said, "The way the JNC is structured, you have the judiciary picking the judiciary and the executive having very little control regarding who is selected." On the other side of the fence Senator Charlie Laster voted against the bill saying, "It would inject politics into selection of judges. All you have to do is look at what goes on in Washington, D.C., and see how partisan and political the confirmation of a judge process is. I just don’t think the people of Oklahoma want to do things the way they do things in Washington, D.C." Concerns were also raised that it could take even longer to fill judicial vacancies than they currently do because of the following provision in the bill, "If the Senate is not in session when an appointment is made, the governor may call the Senate into special session no more than once per quarter to advise and consent on any such appointments." Laster stated that, "It could leave your constituents without a judge at the courthouse." Senator Cliff Aldridge, the bill's sponsor, says that the bill will give more power to the voting public through their elected representatives. Senator Richard Lerblance, however, says that voters already have a say in controlling the judiciary by voting on judicial retention during elections. Aldridge responded by saying the public "has no clue" when it comes to retention.
- ↑ Tulsa World Capitol Bureau "Bill requiring Senate approval of judges passes," March 9, 2011
- ↑ Tulsa World Capitol Bureau "Senate bill allowing vote on changing judge selection goes to House," March 10, 2011
- ↑ Tulsa World Capitol Bureau "Changes in parole, judicial-appointment procedures could go to voters," March 19, 2011