Oklahoma House seeks to impeach half of the state Supreme Court

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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