Skeptical Views About Judicial Selection Reform Ideas in Oklahoma

Editorials in two major Oklahoma newspapers raise questions about recent proposals in the legislature to revise or scrap the merit-based system now used to select appellate judges.

At The Oklahoman, an editorial is skeptical about a proposal to move to the direct election of top judges. “While critics have qualms about the current judicial nominating system, it hardly seems preferable for judges to be selected based on who is the best politician or raises the most campaign money, rather than who is the best lawyer,” the editorial states. 

A Tulsa World editorial, meanwhile, discusses a compromise reached in the state House that would make revisions to the judicial screening commission process, and give more influence to state legislators (see Gavel Grab). The editorial notes that legislators have been unhappy with some state Supreme Court rulings in recent years.

“No major scandals in the courts have occurred since the earlier reform, leading to the question of why tamper with system that works?” the editorial concludes. “The answer seems obvious, but it will be up to Oklahomans — we hope with a discerning eye — to decide how great a role the Legislature should play in judicial selection, or if the latest ‘reform’ is simply a subterfuge to politicizing the courts.”