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Mind for Rent: Leave the JNC alone.

It is the start of a new legislative session in Oklahoma.  Currently, the state is facing a $900 million budget shortfall, and an education funding fiasco.  Many new bills, proposals and pet projects are being filed at the state capital by our legislators.  Despite real problems facing the State, Representative Kevin Calvey is digging up bones of his previous idols, and putting them back into the stream of legislation.

Representative Calvey is cross-bearer for dismantling the Oklahoma Appellate Court system, and throwing it into the pig pen that is our state political system.  Despite repeated failures, Calvey has introduced reclaimed legislation to politicize the appointment of appellate judges in Oklahoma.

I remember when he was first running for the legislature, and thinking here is a citizen-soldier with a solid conservative foundation.  Surely many people hoped this average Oklahoman would add another notch in the “non-politician serving our state” belt.  We hoped the two party political cyst growing in Oklahoma would remain benign in him so he could be a voice for Oklahomans, not a self-serving fight promoter.  Instead, it appears the cyst is cancerous.  His “solutions” are for problems that don’t exist.  The cancer has metastasized and overtaken his political body.

William A. Berry (Retired Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court) gave an exploratory surgery for the cancer of political corruption once consuming the Oklahoma Supreme Court in his book, “Justice for Sale.”  The very reason Oklahoma has a Judicial Nominating Commission is because of political corruption.  The system created in response to the court scandal is a team effort between citizens, attorneys, and the governor to appoint non-political judges and justices to our appellate courts.  Notice who did not make the team; legislators.  You know, the group that can’t seem to fund education, can’t stick to a budget, can’t figure out carpet is cheaper than new custom-made marble floors, …  Some of our legislators cannot handle not being able to define what a judge is, or not be able to appoint their friends.  Maybe they just need some positive affirmation and think stacking the Courts will actually increase the chances of their legislation being found constitutional?

I hope my cancer analogy does not offend those stuck in that battle.  This is only politics, not life.  Still, am I wrong to think most Oklahomans are so tired of the school yard games, we feel like some cancer has taken over the minds of our elected officials?

Our JNC allows the judicial branch to stay out of the political playground.  The system keeps our judiciary independent from both Republicans and Democrats.  Calvey’s proposal would give a partisan governor the chance to appoint cronies, a partisan legislature the opportunity to define the qualifications for judges, and would put all appellate judges in Oklahoma on the campaign trail instead of the trail for justice.

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