Critics of a bill proposing changes to the way judges are appointed in Oklahoma say it would politicize the process. A Norman Transcript article about the bill cites Justice at Stake.
Among its provisions, the bill would require confirmation of a governor’s judicial appointees by a committee of House and Senate members, making it more like the federal confirmation process, the newspaper says. The bill is awaiting action by the full state Senate (see Gavel Grab for background).
“All you’ve got to do is look at what goes on in Washington right now. Is that what you want? Cause that is totally political. The judiciary has got to be independent,” said former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Charles Johnson.
Sen. John Sparks, a Democrat, said the revisions in Oklahoma’s merit selection system proposed by the bill would “cause the selection of judges to be politicized, undermining the independence and credibility of the judiciary.” The article cites JAS to underscore the importance of impartial courts in context:
“Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan group, estimates that state courts handle 95 percent of all active litigation in the U.S., highlighting the importance of fairness and partiality at all levels of the court system.”