Despite Oklahoma legislator's concerns, judicial rating system isn't a chamber of horrors

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: June 21, 2012
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State Reps. John Bennett and Mike Reynolds are in a tizzy over The State Chamber's plan to rate judges facing the retention ballot. In a House press release, Bennett attacked those involved for meeting “in secret.”

Imagine: Private citizens and companies engaging in free speech without the express authorization of politicians or the presence of state officials to monitor them. The horror!

Bennett, R-Sallisaw, claims a “clear conflict of interest” exists because individuals with Chesapeake Energy and BancFirst were allegedly involved and those companies are often targets of litigation. Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, echoed the charge. But how is that a conflict? If you regularly deal with the court system, shouldn't you have a right to comment on the qualifications of judges?

Bennett called the ratings project “a blatant attempt to bully judges into deciding favorable cases for the State Chamber's biggest donors.” Apparently Bennett doesn't have much faith in Oklahoma's judiciary. If judges rule contrary to state law and the constitution because of a rating system, they shouldn't be in office in the first place.

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