The principle of personal property ownership rights is under attack

Again we see another example of attempts to thwart the will and constitutional rights of the citizens – this time of the State of Oklahoma.

In the present session of the Legislature, a bill has been passed to cause a vote in the November election referred to as a “Right To Farm.” The purpose of the measure is to protect farmers and ranchers (and their land) for their right to use the land for its intended purpose against the continuing intrusions by various government agencies and protected businesses. That means (all too often in current times), a business uses the power of a government agency to use the principle of eminent domain to deprive an owner of his or her use or ownership of properly owned and used land.

On March 2, there was a story in the daily Tulsa paper bearing the headline of “Lawsuit challenges Right to Farm vote.” The story bore the byline of Samantha Vicent, a paper staff writer. The first paragraph began: “An Oklahoma lawmaker joined an environmental advocacy group and two others Tuesday to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state question that is to be put to a public vote in November.” Further on, the story identifies the measure as State Question 777. The suit requests an injunction against the question being put on the ballot.

It seems that the long-held principle of property ownership rights is under as much attack as the nation’s police (and even Christianity and those in its fellowship). Actually, the citizens of ancient Israel seem to have had greater property rights than we have ever had in the 18th through 21st centuries. Further, this erosion of property rights would indicate to me that those pushing for it are actually dedicated to a socialist or communist form of government.

In my opinion, this is another of a continuing very dangerous and possibly unconstitutional program of preventing the citizens from even having a vote on an issue of interest. Unfortunately, the present Oklahoma Supreme Court is made up of lawyers who seem, from past decisions, to have a very strong bias in favor of sidetracking proposals with which they personally disagree or in favor of the plaintiffs with whom they are in sympathy. In recent years there have been a number of such cases where those judges, or in at least one case their administrative judge, have declared a proposed question to be unconstitutional before it could be voted on.

It has been my long understanding that the time to file a suit against a law or amendment was after it was in force and the plaintiff could show that there had been some unconstitutional personal or corporate damage caused by it. Thus the requested action would amount to an absolute example of “legislating from the bench,” which brings an end to the rights supposedly guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Decades ago, such action by activist judges would (or should) have resulted in impeachment charges being brought by the appropriate legislative bodies to remove such judges from office.

Further, in the last two years there was an instance where the State Supreme Court issued an unconstitutional ruling on a proposed constitutional amendment by a group of people before the group could even begin the campaign to secure the necessary signatures to put it on the ballot.

That was the first time in my rather lengthy memory that such a judicial action had ever occurred. If that isn’t a classic example of judicial activism, what is? In any event, one hopes that common sense will prevail and that the voters will replace Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, in November. He was the legislator who joined the plaintiffs in this improper action. Further, if any of the three judges up for retention vote for the plaintiffs, he, or they, should be turned out.