Oklahoma House seeks to impeach half of the state Supreme Court

posted at 4:01 pm on April 26, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

This story hasn’t garnered a lot of attention nationally yet, but it definitely will be of interest in terms of questions surrounding activist judges and courts as well as issues of states’ rights. To put the background in thumbnail version, there are two criminals who were convicted of crimes involving children more heinous then I would care to detail on these pages. They were subsequently convicted and sentenced to death. However, in the course of the appeals process, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court granted a stay of execution. This riled not only the Governor, but several members of the House. (For a full and excellent background on the case, also involving some of the details of these terrible crimes – you have been warned – see this full summary at Redstate.)

While the issue of the stay has since been resolved, the matter wasn’t dropped. And now, the House is moving to address their complaints with the five justices who ordered the stay.

I mentioned yesterday that the recent order by the Oklahoma Supreme Court staying an execution had riled members of the legislature and the state’s governor who refused to acknowledge the order. According to media reports that stay has now been lifted however there is an effort underway to impeach the 5 justice majority that ordered the stay (h/t Gavel Grab for the pointer).

HR 1059 has now been introduced and is replicated below

HR1059 is a bit lengthy to begin pasting in pertinent sections here without turning this into a legal opus filled with far too many WHEREASs and all manner of legal speak for anyone to sit through, but you can follow the link above to read the text. The question here which will probably absorb observers for some time to come is whether rendering a judgement which the legislative and executive branches at the state level disagree with will be found as valid grounds to impeach them. There may be a sympathetic ear in many quarters (including yours truly) to say that setting aside the judgement of the lower court warrants kicking them out. But is that truly a valid reason for impeachment?

The reason I ask is that we have divided government with a lot of antipathy between the sides in many other states (not to mention in Washington) as well. If the courts render judgements we don’t like, providing they provide some sort of explanation in their written decisions, should we start giving them the boot? I’ll want to hear from some lawyers on this one, but it seems rather contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches. What do you think?


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Comment pages: 1 2

Emanations from penumbra. Haven’t you heard?

Rix on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Impeachment is the ultimate plenary power, and is one of the reasons the legislative branch is always the most important…

JohnGalt23 on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

I’ll want to hear from some lawyers on this one, but it seems rather contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches.

Huh?

That doesn’t mean every branch gets to do whatever it wants to do forever.

When one branch is running away with hubris then the others are supposed to step in and slap it upside the head. AKA checks and balances.

The Founders knew the lust for power that exists in the hearts of all men and they thought the best way to counter that was to essentially have the branches be able to pit themselves against each other. IOW learn to love the gridlock.

The judiciary is the most runaway branch of government today. And has been for quite a while. We weren’t meant to be a nation ruled by men in black.

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

All but one of the Justices currently serving on the OK Supreme Court were appointed by Democrat Governors. You do the math.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 4:08 PM

So they are going Roosevelt?

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:09 PM

The issue started out simply enough. Two men, condemned to death, were challenging their executions based on the drug combination used to execute them. One of them had shotgunned a teenage girl and buried her alive, the other had raped and murdered a young child, and they were concerned that the drugs used during the lethal injection process would cause them discomfort.

I say execute them in the same manner they killed their victims. Maybe uncomfortable? Hell yeah, they deserve it…

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

I see your point, and the Judiciary is definitely not above question or consequences, but is issuing a stay grounds for impeachment? I suppose that’s the question I was trying to pose.

Jazz Shaw on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Impeachment … in my non-legal opinion … should be limited to reasons along the lines of “high crimes and misdemeanors” rather than a ruling which you disagree.

Along the lines of recalls … Scott Walker is an example. Use the normal election cycle.

In the case of the judiciary … it’s not just separation of powers, but keeping the judiciary out of politics. Yes, I know the judiciary gets politicized … but this only makes it worse.

For example … I disagree with the President on a LOT of things … maybe even most things … but he is the duly elected President of the United States … absent high crimes and misdemeanors, impeachment should not be on the table.

My response to the states is … elect/appoint better judges … depending on whether an individual state elects or appoints its judiciary.

Grinch on April 26, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Every institution in the country is “man made” (and that term is gender free). Therefore, if “man” can make it then “man” can cast it aside or change it. This includes governments, courts, and every other aspect of this “man made” government. Nothing short of God has a divine or permanent right to dictate without question.

rplat on April 26, 2014 at 4:16 PM

I say execute them in the same manner they killed their victims. Maybe uncomfortable? Hell yeah, they deserve it…

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Bring back hangings, shooting squads, etc.

There shouldn’t be a reason for them to be comfortable when they die.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

3 equal branches doesn’t mean 1 branch can do whatever they want with no repercussions.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Judiciary is now independent unless what they do is politically unpopular. Interesting idea by “conservatives”.

PBH on April 26, 2014 at 4:18 PM

The issue started out simply enough. Two men, condemned to death, were challenging their executions based on the drug combination used to execute them. One of them had shotgunned a teenage girl and buried her alive, the other had raped and murdered a young child, and they were concerned that the drugs used during the lethal injection process would cause them discomfort.

awwwwwwww-lemme puke.

bazil9 on April 26, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I see your point, and the Judiciary is definitely not above question or consequences, but is issuing a stay grounds for impeachment? I suppose that’s the question I was trying to pose.

Jazz Shaw on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

for non-elected judges (have no idea if this state is like that) its the only recourse. if the judges were not anti DP (I am purely guessing there) would they have made the stay? I had been reading about this on the fringes a bit and it seemed to me it was an end run around the DP.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Legally, you get impeached for whatever causes the legislature to impeach you. If the Oklahoma legislature wants to impeach them for being lousy judges, it is their legal right to do so.

The rest is sophistry.

ShadrachSmith on April 26, 2014 at 4:24 PM

We are one of two states where the Supreme Court has no constitutional jurisdiction on criminal matters.

The five justices clearly violated the Oklahoma constitution.

They took fire and quickly backed off.

goatweed on April 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Judgment, not judgement.

boone on April 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Term limits.

Franklin100 on April 26, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Seems like they should be doing this with some kind of recall instead of impeachment. However, if a ruling and order is so egregious that it rises to the level of an abuse of power, I suppose impeachment is merited.

Count to 10 on April 26, 2014 at 4:26 PM

for non-elected judges (have no idea if this state is like that) its the only recourse. if the judges were not anti DP (I am purely guessing there) would they have made the stay? I had been reading about this on the fringes a bit and it seemed to me it was an end run around the DP.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I don’t think it matter if they are appointed or elected.

Even if elected (in some states), their political affiliation isn’t in their bio for many cases, so you have to do some digging and research, and when there are more than 10 judges on the ballot, that can become tedious.

Appointing is just as bad, even if you do know what they are politically, it still ends up being a crap sandwich on a whole wheat, glutton free bun.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Legally, you get impeached for whatever causes the legislature to impeach you. If the Oklahoma legislature wants to impeach them for being lousy judges, it is their legal right to do so.

The rest is sophistry.

ShadrachSmith on April 26, 2014 at 4:24 PM

I guess that depends on whether the legislature is allowed to define “high crimes and misdemeanors” however they want, without limitation. On the other hand, if what they pass is final, with no recourse, I suppose you are necessarily right.

Count to 10 on April 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM

JohnGalt23 on April 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

All evidence to the contrary. I’d compare them to the Keystone Cops but they make too much noise.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Not a lawyer, but pretty up on the Founder’s thinking. I’ve also served in a quasi-judicial position.

Impeachment is a political act. It’s not a criminal trial. It is a process to put the “meets and bounds” on political actions. Unbridled judges are absolutely eligible for impeachment.

The founders expected vigorous use of checks and balances to keep all government officials within the limited powers boundry set by the Constitution.

This is an absolutely valid reason for impeachment.

IMHO, so is finding new rights, setting aside valid public referenda on Leftist principles, and requiring legislators to fund judicial agendas that are not in the Constitution.

This should be the first of many impeachments.

NaCly dog on April 26, 2014 at 4:29 PM

You want help forming an opinion about representative government, but you say you want lawyers to fill you in?

What kind of a legal sycophant are you?

These were/are crimes against children. And you need a lawyer to help you make up your mind?

Pathetic.

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Politically, I can see where the use of impeachment here might be imprudent, but without knowing the ins and outs of Oklahoma law, I don’t see why it would be beyond the power of the legislature. Few, if any, people would argue that the judiciary invalidating an act of the legislature was outside of its power. At the end of the day, I don’t think this is THAT different.

boone on April 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

I’ll want to hear from some lawyers on this one, but it seems rather contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches. What do you think?

This sounds like a perfect, and intended, use of the checks and balances that all democracies must have.

Keep in mind this isn’t about an interpretation of the law, but is about the “people” being really fed up with the judicial branch and setting out to change it.

Sounds good to me.

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

The republican form of government with a federal backing usually has a check and balance system attached to it.

Impeachment is a check and balance for use by the legislative branch against executive and judicial abuse.

ajacksonian on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Bring back hangings, shooting squads, etc.

There shouldn’t be a reason for them to be comfortable when they die.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

You got it darlin’

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

By the way, how about growing a pair and naming the 5 Oklahoma justices who stayed the execution? Or are facts above your pundit pay grade?

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

my point is elected can either lose the next election or be recalled, those whom are appointed can’t. in those instances legislative impeachment is, as far as I can tell, the only option.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Jazz Shaw on April 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

OK.

I’m no attorney, but if the legislature thinks the judiciary is making decisions that impeach justice, then impeach the judiciary.

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:32 PM

my point is elected can either lose the next election or be recalled, those whom are appointed can’t. in those instances legislative impeachment is, as far as I can tell, the only option.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

They can also just be fired. Impeachment doesn’t necessarily do anything, and they may be able to keep their jobs.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:33 PM

my point is elected can either lose the next election or be recalled, those whom are appointed can’t. in those instances legislative impeachment is, as far as I can tell, the only option.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Yes. My next comment was going to be that then if the voters think the legislature is out of line, then the voters should get rid of them.

The biggest problem then is the Low Information Voter.

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Here are the 5 to be impeached:
Chief Justice Tom Colbert,
Vice – Chief Justice John Reif,
Justice Yvonne Kauger,
Justice Joseph Watt and
Justice Doug Combs

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

You know I might have some sympathy for a stay if it was based on the possible innocence of the accused but for the necessity of painless lethal injections, I call bull hockey. Get back to me when we can conjure up some compassion for the victims.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

are facts above your pundit pay grade?

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Can you not use google? It isn’t hard… research, something maybe you should try to do than expect others to answer you like a child?

Just a thought.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Reserving impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors is far to limiting for judges. We bestow upon them great power. With that power we expect them to faithfully defend the Constitution and see the the law is faithfully enforced. In way to many cases nation wide and at all levels we have judges (And a president) who decide what laws are to be enforced and what laws are to be ignored based on their personal feelings on the issue. These judges are not mini-kings who rule by decree. Their only job is to see that the law is followed, whether they happen to like the law or not. The founding fathers did not think hanging or firing squad was to painful for condemned criminals. It is judges who decided that issue. Making law is the job of congress. I say we need a rash of judicial impeachments to send a message to judges everywhere that we will not stand for them inserting their personal wishes for the rule of law.

BHO on April 26, 2014 at 4:35 PM

I can tell you that Oklahoma sees the issue as one of justice versus activism.

Justice was rendered in the criminal court. These men were duly tried and found guilt of their deliberate, premeditated, and heinous crimes. This was never a civil suit, but a criminal one from the outset.

These judges, of the civil court, decided that because the drugs that were to be used to execute these individuals might cause them discomfort, they’d give them an indefinite stay and override the criminal court when their clients sued in criminal court to try and avoid the death penalty. Because the governor and the state legislature acted, the civil court reversed it’s disastrous course.

Governor Fallon and the state legislature are moving to serve the civil court notice. Activism from the bench will not be tolerated here in Oklahoma. Moving to impeach these five judges may well be the best means to drive that message home.

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Impeach the buggers…

When justices attempt to write law (by saying those facing the death penalty have the right to know their means of execution), they are attempting to take over the role of legislators as well as the governor who signs bills into law. The Legislature has a perfectly good reason to kick them out of office for their over reach of power.

It might also be useful to pass a law that says any rulings that create law sunset (go away) according to X years times the number of judges in the majority. Add a provision to do so for past rulings if one wishes. Return the legislative process of writing laws back to the legislative process in a predictable and orderly fashion. If and when the legislature takes up these issues, they’ll also have the hindsight of seeing how any judicial activist “laws” worked or didn’t work.

It might even be valid to include a process where judges that have X number of rulings over a time period that are determined (by the legislature?) to be judicial activism to be terminated. Judges should feel free to state how they feel on many rulings, but such statements shouldn’t necessarily carry the perpetual rule of law…

Or something like that…

drfredc on April 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

sorry… sued in civil court to try and avoid the death penalty on the grounds that the drugs being used to execute them might be unduly painful.

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Judiciary is now independent unless what they do is politically unpopular. Interesting idea by “conservatives”.

PBH on April 26, 2014 at 4:18 PM

So when the POTUS stood in front of the camera and told the world

“With all due deference to the separation of powers,” he said, the court last week “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

After that politically unpopular (mostly within the WH) ruling, the IRS undertook criminal steps to ensure conservative PACs would be hamstrung for the 2012 election cycle.

What say you to that, PBH?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:40 PM

The reason I ask is that we have divided government with a lot of antipathy between the sides in many other states (not to mention in Washington) as well. If the courts render judgements we don’t like, providing they provide some sort of explanation in their written decisions, should we start giving them the boot?

Shame on you Jazz. You never get into the mostly jurisdictional feuding behind these stays. At the same time, efforts to impeach half of one of the feuding “Supreme Courts” of Oklahoma is absurd.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2014 at 4:40 PM

They can also just be fired. Impeachment doesn’t necessarily do anything, and they may be able to keep their jobs.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:33 PM

not here in maine last I looked, impeachment includes removal.
its not done often enough for people to know much about about it, they get appointed and are set for life unless they commit an actual crime.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:41 PM

You know I might have some sympathy for a stay if it was based on the possible innocence of the accused but for the necessity of painless lethal injections, I call bull hockey. Get back to me when we can conjure up some compassion for the victims.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Yep. It just sickens me how gruesomely they killed those children and I am supposed to feel sorry for them dying in an uncomfortable manner? Not a chance, darlin’

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I’ve asked this question before without much of an answer, so let me ask it again. What gives a federal judge the right to proclaim unconstitutional, a constitutional change voted by the people? Isn’t the fact that the people want the change and passed by constitutional means ie election by the people, constitutional? So what gives the judge the right to over turn a vote of the people?

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Thanks for the criminal/civil distinction.

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I say we need a rash of judicial impeachments to send a message to judges everywhere that we will not stand for them inserting their personal wishes for the rule of law.
BHO on April 26, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Agreed.

Otherwise the only other option is Wheeler’s solution (taxicab depressions -The Pig Trap )

Cleombrotus on April 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Absolutely the legislature can impeach these activist judges.

If the reps are engaged in a “political witchhunt”, then the voters can throw out those reps if they choose.

Rebar on April 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Good afternoon, INC. Most welcome.

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Darlin, I am sure Mr. Shaw already has an opinion, he’s just interested in others. As we all are. It’s kind of the point of a blog. So should we put you down as a pro-impeachment of the judges?

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 4:44 PM

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Hey, Jackie!

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

I’ve asked this question before without much of an answer, so let me ask it again. What gives a federal judge the right to proclaim unconstitutional, a constitutional change voted by the people? Isn’t the fact that the people want the change and passed by constitutional means ie election by the people, constitutional? So what gives the judge the right to over turn a vote of the people?

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Can you point to a case where this has happened?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

not here in maine last I looked, impeachment includes removal.
its not done often enough for people to know much about about it, they get appointed and are set for life unless they commit an actual crime.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I guess it depends on the state. I have learned something concerning Maine.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

In CA, back in 1986 we removed chief justice Rose Bird via the polls. By two thirds majority IIRC…

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Can you point to a case where this has happened?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Prop 8 comes to mind.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:46 PM

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Good to see you, INC. :) I hope you’re well.

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Here are the 5 to be impeached:
Chief Justice Tom Colbert,
Vice – Chief Justice John Reif,
Justice Yvonne Kauger,
Justice Joseph Watt and
Justice Doug Combs

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The Chief Justice, Associate Justice, and Justice Combs were all appointed by the same (Democrat) Governor, Doug Henry.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Yes, thanks. This week I skimmed through a nasty virus that laid the rest of the house low. Good thing took as someone needed to be able to go to the grocery and pharmacy!

I hope you’re doing fine!

Have to run.

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

I suppose the question would be whether the targeted justices overstepped their authority or otherwise went beyond the Oklahoma and US constitutions. The situation kind of reminds me of the one we had years ago with California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird, who would not approve a death penalty to save her life, because of her personal opposition to capital punishment. That was a clear case where she should have been impeached and removed for abuse of power, but the people took matters into their own hands and kicked her off the bench in a retention election. If the Oklahoma justices are similarly imposing their personal preferences, then, yes. They should be impeached.

As an aside, it’s interesting that OK maintains two supreme courts, one civil, one criminal. (It’s the justices of the civil court targeted here.) I wonder if any other state does that.

irishspy on April 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Here are the 5 to be impeached:

Chief Justice Tom Colbert,
Vice – Chief Justice John Reif,
Justice Yvonne Kauger,
Justice Joseph Watt and
Justice Doug Combs

chuckh on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The Chief Justice, Associate Justice, and Justice Combs were all appointed by the same (Democrat) Governor, Doug Brad Henry.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

FIFM

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Now we see the leftist mind at work! Only in the left mind can one say that an “execution” should be painless. There real reason is they oppose capital punishment. Don’t kill murderers and rapist, but put to death the unborn innocent!!!!!!!!!

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM

I’ve asked this question before without much of an answer, so let me ask it again. What gives a federal judge the right to proclaim unconstitutional, a constitutional change voted by the people? Isn’t the fact that the people want the change and passed by constitutional means ie election by the people, constitutional? So what gives the judge the right to over turn a vote of the people?

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Can you point to a case where this has happened?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

3 Activist Justices in Massachusetts overturned popular vote election results when they legalized gay marriage there. The people of MA had in fact voted against legalizing gay marriage.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 4:52 PM

There was no reason to grant the stay. Period. It was just a way to thwart the law and judges have pulled that crap one too many times. The reason they won’t release information regarding where they obtained the drugs is because of the death threats made to the employees and families of employees of the pharmacies. Enough already! The majority of citizens support the death penalty. The court should follow the law and stop trying to block it. This issue has repeatedly gone to the USSC this past month who have refused to grant cert.

I forgot what this last guy did but I think he raped and buried a young girl alive. Even the mother of the rapist/murderer has said she has had enough with the constant delays.

Blake on April 26, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Prop 8 comes to mind.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Ah. I believe this is how it goes:

Prop 8 is a ballot issue to ban SSM in CA, and is affirmed by election.

The new law is contested at the CA supreme court, and is overturned.

An amendment to the CA constitution is passed, and is immediately appealed in federal court.

The US Supreme Court rules “Prop 8″ unconstitutional.

The CA supreme court did not strike down the CA amendment.

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

I guess it depends on the state. I have learned something concerning Maine.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

thats why I mentioned that I didn’t know the applicable state laws there, should have clarified that better.
all in all I think appointed is generally the best way (vs elected) by a VERY small difference; but for it to work the legislature DOES need to take action when needed. and sadly this is where the issues lie.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

INC on April 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

I wish you and yours well, INC. :)

thatsafactjack on April 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

I should also add it HAS been some time since I read the Maine laws on this so take that under advisement please.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Bobmbx====== have you ever heard of California? Or how about Michigan voting to ban abortion being over turned by a federal judge (1960′s) and being upheld by the supremes.

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:56 PM

involving some of the details of these terrible crimes – you have been warned – see this full summary at Redstate

I checked the link. It mentioned rape and murder. There were no details. Unless those words were the details?

ebrawer on April 26, 2014 at 4:57 PM

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Suppose Alabama passes an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that said blacks must sit in the back of the bus.

Settled law?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Judiciary is now independent unless what they do is politically unpopular. Interesting idea by “conservatives”.

PBH on April 26, 2014 at 4:18 PM

This is fairly over-rought, if not simply ignorant. So to whom is the judiciary answerable? Certainly not themselves, although based on your comment, you believe judges should have carte blanche until death or retirement (unless a ‘conservative ruling is in the offing, of course).

The citizenry reserves the right to set in place a mechanism to take action should a judge or judges step ‘out of bounds.’ In Oklahoma, that mechanism is impeachment by the citizens’ elected representatives. It’s doubtful that the legislature is going to take, or avoid, such steps without the approval of their constituents, as said legislators will be answerable in the next election.

BTW..how do you feel about members of the left calling for imprisonment of “climate change deniers?”

Ricard on April 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Strawman argument.

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I can tell you what I think ought to be done to the rapist and also what should be done to the judges but some bleeding heart liberal would take exception.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Branches of government in a republican system, with or without a federalist understanding, are not ‘equals’ in respect to each other: they each partake of a limited part of the sovereign power.

Within their domains they are the sovereign power.

In a federalist form of republican government there are checks and balances between the sovereigns so as to prevent abuse and over-reach amongst them. Popular sovereignty is generally held by the legislative branch and in the democratic understanding of republican government run by federalist means, it is the heart of power for the State (be it US State or Nation State) and it gets a lot of power to remove abusive executives and judges from office.

None of these branches are ‘independent’ as they are inter-linked to exercise the sovereign power. In a democratic system running a republic by federalist means, the representatives of the people have the final say on such abuse, although moderated by the other branches. There are checks and balances even to that ultimate of power within government, but when exercised it tends to be the last word as it comes from the representative voice of the people.

ajacksonian on April 26, 2014 at 5:05 PM

for non-elected judges (have no idea if this state is like that) its the only recourse. if the judges were not anti DP (I am purely guessing there) would they have made the stay? I had been reading about this on the fringes a bit and it seemed to me it was an end run around the DP.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I don’t think it matter if they are appointed or elected.

Even if elected (in some states), their political affiliation isn’t in their bio for many cases, so you have to do some digging and research, and when there are more than 10 judges on the ballot, that can become tedious.

Appointing is just as bad, even if you do know what they are politically, it still ends up being a crap sandwich on a whole wheat, glutton free bun.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Remember the 8 Activist Justices on the Florida Supreme Court who tried to steal the 2000 election for Algore? All 8 of them were/are Democrats, and they were elected.

They were never asked by Algore to intervene in his appeal. They injected themselves into it anyway. Their subsequent “rulings” in that case were all later rejected by SCOTUS, by the following margins: 9-0, 7-2, and 5-4.

But when those Activist Justices later ran for re-election, they all succeeded.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Strawman argument.

jainphx on April 26, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Oh do explain.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

The Founders viewed the Courts as a branch of government. It is important that they remain independent, but they are not above the law.

I’m not going to read the OK Constitution, the stay order, or the impeachment resolution to find out, but if they exceeded the constitutional limits on their power to stay executions, that’s enough to impeach.

Impeachment is and remains essentially a political act. When judges insert their personal feelings or beliefs above the law in deciding cases, that’s a political act, too.

Impeach ‘em? Heck, you can hang ‘em for all I care.

Adjoran on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

“…it seems rather contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches.”

Is it not contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches to have activist judges overturning a state’s legislature and constitutionally enacted laws?

I say: it’s about damn time some of these activist judges got the boot!

ThePainfulTruth on April 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM

But when those Activist Justices later ran for re-election, they all succeeded.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Actually I had no clue they ran again and won. Interesting. Then again it is Broward County.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM

“The Founders viewed the Courts as a branch of government. It is important that they remain independent”

The Founder’s also empowered congress to impeach judges who stray from the law. That too is in the Constitution.

ThePainfulTruth on April 26, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Suppose Alabama passes an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that said blacks must sit in the back of the bus.

Settled law?

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 5:01 PM

That would be unconstitutional. I know that doesn’t stop socialists but still.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 5:11 PM

We need to win two federal wave elections in a row and then have the legislature go after wayward federal judges.

GaltBlvnAtty on April 26, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Impeach ‘em? Heck, you can hang ‘em for all I care.

Adjoran on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

The traditional method involves: tar, feathers and rails.

Works, too.

ajacksonian on April 26, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I don’t doubt it for a minute. It is amazing how many judges and amendments (written in lawyer) are on Florida’s ballots. I’ve tried to research them in the past and of course every last one of them is straight up law and order who love the constitution. I have to assume they don’t get a lot of negative press because people are afraid they’ll have a case in front of them. And it’s usually just reelecting them, it’s not a him/her vs him/her type of thing.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 5:15 PM

We need to win two federal wave elections in a row and then have the legislature go after wayward federal judges.

GaltBlvnAtty on April 26, 2014 at 5:13 PM

As Congress sets up the federal judiciary system outside of the SCOTUS, the easier way is to abolish a jurisdiction and then re-incorporate it as a new entity, possibly by sub-dividing it into smaller regions.

What Congress creates it can abolish.

ajacksonian on April 26, 2014 at 5:15 PM

While I disagree with the judges, I think impeachment is too far. It’s not like they set them loose or abolished the death penalty. They gave a stay of execution, something fairly routine. Should we impeach judges every time they make a decision we don’t like?

Hal_10000 on April 26, 2014 at 5:16 PM

While I disagree with the judges, I think impeachment is too far. It’s not like they set them loose or abolished the death penalty. They gave a stay of execution, something fairly routine. Should we impeach judges every time they make a decision we don’t like?

Hal_10000 on April 26, 2014 at 5:16 PM

When judges grant frivolous appeals in order to delay in definitely the imposition of sentences, yeah, they should be impreached. It is not like these issues haven’t been heard before and rejected by the highest court, i.e., USSC. They’ve had 20-30 years of appels. Enough is enough.

Blake on April 26, 2014 at 5:20 PM

While I disagree with the judges, I think impeachment is too far. It’s not like they set them loose or abolished the death penalty. They gave a stay of execution, something fairly routine. Should we impeach judges every time they make a decision we don’t like?

Hal_10000 on April 26, 2014 at 5:16 PM

No, as a rule, there shouldn’t be a impeachment process for every time. But should judges have a bleeding heart for men who are obviously a detriment to society and have savagely murdered children, ask for something such as life, because they believe that being injected via a drug concoction will hurt?

There is a fine line on things like this. And it looks like it was over stepped, and Oklahoma is taking the initiative.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Supreme Court Justices are not directly elected by the people so I’m kind of tossed between competing viewpoints re: impeachment.

GarandFan on April 26, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Here’s what the Oklahoma State Constitution says:

“The Governor and other elective state officers, including the
Justices of the Supreme Court, shall be liable and subject to
impeachment for wilful neglect of duty, corruption in office,
habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving
moral turpitude committed while in office.”

Does this qualify as “wilful neglect of duty?” That’s debatable. “Incompetency?” Maybe. It certainly doesn’t fall into any of the other categories.

notropis on April 26, 2014 at 5:27 PM

I’ll want to hear from some lawyers on this one, but it seems rather contrary to the entire concept of the separation of the powers of the three branches.

If the legislature oversteps its bounds, it will be voted out. I’m not worried on this one.

blammm on April 26, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Most impeachments for an event are usually using that singular event as a proximate cause: those being impeached have done other activities in their time in office that have demonstrated some lack of judgment, abuse of power, over-reach, or some other behavior that has led to the impeachment event. Usually the one being used is the most obvious and egregious of events.

While they are political in nature, they also do serve as a long-term remedy for positions that are not elective in nature, but by appointment. Positions where an individual or individuals may feel more secure in their over-reach, abuse or understanding that their judgment has been faulty and never feel they have to do anything about it.

Of course some events are so poorly executed or judged that they are in and of themselves worthy of impeachment. Those are rare but notable. I would not be surprised to find out that this case was just the worst of a number of cases over time, none worthy of individual consideration, but this one serving as the last straw.

ajacksonian on April 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Does this qualify as “wilful neglect of duty?” That’s debatable. “Incompetency?” Maybe. It certainly doesn’t fall into any of the other categories.

notropis on April 26, 2014 at 5:27 PM

I could argue that the listed transgressions are mandatory impeachment offenses. The list of discretionary impeachment offenses may be endless. BTW, the ‘moral turpitude’ clause can be defined as ‘picking boogers in the courtroom’.

Moral Turpitude
A phrase used in Criminal Law to describe conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals.

The operative word there is ‘contrary to community standards’, not national, international, or politically correct standards.

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 5:34 PM

notropis on April 26, 2014 at 5:27 PM

I’m going with habitual drunkenness. It’s like being called a racist, hard to disprove, especially when you do crazy things.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 5:35 PM

BobMbx on April 26, 2014 at 5:34 PM

There’s no such thing as a “mandatory impeachment offense.” The legislature is always free to not pursue impeachment. But, yes, moral turpitude is also a possibility.

notropis on April 26, 2014 at 5:39 PM

I think if those “justices” are impeached, they would be getting off lightly.

VorDaj on April 26, 2014 at 5:40 PM

But when those Activist Justices later ran for re-election, they all succeeded.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Actually I had no clue they ran again and won. Interesting. Then again it is Broward County.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM

No, this was statewide elections, as it was the State Supreme Court, and some of those Justices were from other counties.

Del Dolemonte on April 26, 2014 at 5:41 PM

I’m going with habitual drunkenness. It’s like being called a racist, hard to disprove, especially when you do crazy things.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Dying here.. I. Can’t. Stop. Laughing!

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 5:42 PM

The perps’ execution is scheduled for Tuesday night. They could be Obama’s sons:

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-supreme-court-lets-executions-go-forward/article/4412423

bw222 on April 26, 2014 at 5:43 PM

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