Oklahoma’s liberal Supreme Court has overturned another pro-life law against rapists who target children on a technicality.
Senate Bill 642 by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Grau would have required abortionist to preserve a sample of the dead unborn baby when the mother was younger than age 14.
It passed the Oklahoma House by a vote of 70 to 5 and passed 40-5 in the Senate and was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. It was co-authored by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow (a physician); Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa; Sen. Ralph Shorty, R-Oklahoma City; and Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Oklahoma City.
“The Oklahoma Supreme Court too often wields its power to strike down good legislation because a bill doesn’t suit the court’s political ideology,” said Treat. “The Supreme Court takes a very different view of the single subject rule when it suits a cause they support; however, the court’s application of the single subject rule becomes remarkably strict when it comes to pro-life legislation. “Most Oklahomans would agree this is an important piece of legislation that covers one single subject. This bill was intended to protect minors by collecting and maintaining evidence of the rape of a child so such evidence could be used to help convict sexual predators.
“Reasonable minds can agree this is a very worthy goal. The single subject provision was a noble attempt to protect the process. Unfortunately, the court has perverted its intent to force its ideology on Oklahomans.”
The justices ruled that the new law addressed more than one single issue and therefore violated the Oklahoma Constitution.
“We find that each of the four sections of Senate Bill 642 lack a common purpose and are not germane, relative and cognitive,” according to the court’s opinion. “Although each section relates in some way to abortion, the broad sweep of each section does not cure the single subject defects in this bill.”
It was another victory for abortion clinics from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Oklahoma is arguably the most pro-life state in the union but the court has a consistent history of overturning popular laws, usually when a lawsuit is filed by Oklahoma abortion clinics and supported by out-of-state abortion advocates.
Some of the examples are:
- In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court voted 9-0 to reject an initiative petition for a vote on an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution (State question 761) that would grant “personhood” to unborn children. The petition drive was started but rejected before the deadline for signatures had passed.
- In 2014, the Oklahoma Supreme Court voted 9-0 to make permanent a temporary injunction to stop a law that required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
- In 2016, the Oklahoma Supreme Court with a unanimous vote stopped the initiative petition (State Question 782) before it could collect any signatures. That proposal would have asserted states rights and banned abortion in Oklahoma.
State voters will decide the fate of two Oklahoma Supreme Court justices in retention votes on November 8.
Justice James Winchester in District 5 and Justice Douglas Combs will be on the ballot. Justice Steven Taylor would have been on the ballot also but he has announced his retirement, effective in December. Gov. Mary Fallin will nominate his replacement from a pool of candidates supplied by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission and her choice is subject to Senate approval.
Other statewide retention votes include Judge Clancy Smith from District 1 of the Court of Criminal Appeals and Judge Rob Hudson of District 2.
On the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, Judge John Fischer, Judge Larry Joplin and Judge P. Thomas Thornbrugh are up for retention votes on November 8.
Since the law was changed in the 1960s, no judge in Oklahoma has lost a retention vote. There are grassroots efforts to promote a no vote on retaining Winchester and Combs, including a statewide education effort by Charlie Meadows, the retired president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.
In a meeting last week in Tulsa, Meadows said the Supreme Court is out of touch with the beliefs of Oklahomans. He is convinced that if voters understand the controversial decision to overturn state laws, some judges would lose their positions.