The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 3, 2014

Other Views: Giant step backward

— Among the thousands of bills introduced for the second session of Oklahoma’s 54th Legislature was the usual spate of ideas, ranging from practical to preposterous.

 Liberals will laugh at a proposal by state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, to protect the rights of second-graders to chew their Pop-Tarts into the shape of Berettas, and conservatives will chuckle as state Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, makes her annual attempt to legalize marijuana. But members of both parties should shudder at the abominable bill filed by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, that would effectively eradicate Oklahoma’s separation of powers.

House Bill 3380 would create a nine-member Board of Judicial Review. Members would handle performance evaluations of the state’s judiciary, from district court judges through Supreme Court justices. They would rate judges on everything from the clarity of their written opinions to the quality of their legal decision-making. The board would poll attorneys, litigants and others for their opinions on the judge’s handling of their case.

The members would also be required to take a “retain,” “do not retain,” or “no opinion” position when judges are on a retention ballot. Most voters would follow that recommendation, making the panelists the de facto electors.

The governor, president pro tem of the Senate and speaker of the House would each appoint three members to serve five-year terms. The only rule would be that the appointees could not be practicing lawyers or jurists. That means nine people with no legal training could be critiquing the quality of legal decisions throughout the state, and they would wield a sizable sword.

House Bill 3380 would create a human resources department run by the Legislature to oversee the judiciary. Not only is it duplicitous of the smaller-government-is-better Shannon to create a new, unnecessary agency complete with support staff, it takes the philosophy of a constitutional democracy back more than 300 years and spits on Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

The notion of judicial independence goes back to 1701’s Act of Settlement in England, and French philosopher Montesquieu, who greatly influenced Alexander Hamilton and other Founding Fathers. An independent judiciary was critical to the Constitution’s framers. It remains critical to a free society.

In recent months, China’s top court and security chief have urged the Communist Party to move toward true judicial independence amid a wave of political reform. What a tragedy it would be for the Legislature to move Oklahomans the opposite direction.

—The Journal Record, Oklahoma City, Okla.

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Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: No need for No. 9

    “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: ‘Right to Farm’ is wrong

    On Aug. 5, voters will be asked to make a decision about Amendment 1.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: No on Amendment 7

    The Missouri Department of Transportation is wanting more money through a three-quarter-cent addition to the sales tax. Consider one example of how it spends your money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: Bad way to get revenue

    I received two fliers through the mail today asking me to vote “yes” on Amendment 7, which would add a three-quarter-cent tax to Missouri’s sales tax to help maintain roads and bridges.

    July 29, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: Symptom of bad policy

    The Obama administration continues to be surprised and shocked when its policies of good intentions suddenly meet the hard reality of unintended consequences.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebecca French Smith, guest columnist: Amendment 1: Farmers are 'boots on the ground'

    Take a moment and ask yourself who was the last person in your family to farm.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View; Makes no sense

    Chess was never my game. It’s too complicated.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Time value of money

     I was shaking my head along with Anson Burlingame (“Much has changed in U.S. over 14 years,” Globe, July 22), then he offered his readers a chance: “Go ahead — take your pick.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Boiling a frog

    We voters are now being urged to vote on Aug. 5 for Amendment 7 “to fix our roads, highways and bridges.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Our view: 'Yes' on 7

    Opponents of Amendment 7 say this: “Missouri families are already hard pressed to pay their bills during this period of slow economic recovery.”

    July 26, 2014

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