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Conventional Thinking: Courting disaster

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has done it again. They were given a chance to retract their original order to remove the 10 Commandments monument at the State Capitol. Instead they chose to reaffirm their decision, completely ignoring sound legal arguments from our Attorney General, not to mention the historical importance of the 10 Commandments, and once again showing that Oklahoma has some of the nation’s most activist judges.

This is one of many outrageous decisions from our state’s Supreme Court. Others included the striking down of duly passed pro-life laws.

In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a statute that would have required abortionists to show an ultrasound to the mother before an abortion could be performed. An almost identical Texas law was upheld by a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2014, Oklahoma passed Senate Bill 1848, which requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital that the Oklahoma Supreme Court tossed out.

The list goes on. So what can we do about a Supreme Court so out of step with Oklahoma?

// Don’t retain bad judges

More people need to “do their homework” before voting on the rentention of judges, taking time to review the voting records of judges. To the best of our abilities, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee will highlight any significant court rulings, to make the public more informed.

// Remove bad laws

The next logical step would be to look at what laws are being used by the activist judges. There is a Legislative effort forthcoming in 2016 to remove the Blaine Amendment on which the 10 Commandments case was decided.

The amendment in question states, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

The Blaine Amendment has become a sort of legal trump card in the hands of activist judges to remove religion from the public square.

If we remove or replace the Blaine Amendment, that would undercut this bad decision and maybe others.

// Reform the judiciary

The Supreme Court used the Blaine Amendment this time. Next time, they might find another law to justify removing religion from society. We still have the fundamental problem of consistently bad rulings from our judges.

This brings us to the last step, the larger step, which is to review the entire judicial system. Unlike the Federal level where the President nominates justices, Oklahoma has an arcane, archaic system that has not been significantly reformed for decades in which the Oklahoma Bar Association has an inordinate say-so in who is considered for judicial roles.

The Oklahoma Legislature can, and should, review the system and develop a better way to select judges.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has had its chances to do what is right. We can no longer ignore the damaging effects to the soul of this state from a decision like this. It’s time to review Oklahoma’s judiciary.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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