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Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Noma Gurich speaks at Constitution Day celebration

by Silas Allen Published: September 23, 2012

With seven articles and 27 amendments, the U.S. Constitution ranks as one of the shortest constitutions of any major power in the world.

By contrast, Oklahoma Justice Noma Gurich said, when Oklahoma ratified its constitution in 1907, it was the longest of any entity in the world.

Gurich spoke Monday at Rose State College to mark Constitution Day, the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

Gurich was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in January 2011 by then-Gov. Brad Henry. She succeeded state Justice Marian Opala, who died in 2010.

Before being appointed to the state bench, Gurich served as a district judge in Oklahoma County since 1998.

Gurich is the third woman to be appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The differences in the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions reflect the different attitudes their framers had about the roles the documents would play, Gurich said.

When framers drafted the U.S. Constitution, she said, they intentionally made the document as broad and simple as possible, leaving room for future generations to decide how to implement the law.

“They did not try to fill in every single blank,” she said.

By contrast, when Oklahoma's founders developed the state's constitution, they tried to address every possible issue that might come up, often leaving little room for interpretation years later, Gurich said.

That level of detail often leads to frustration when judges try to apply the law to modern situations, she said.

On the federal level, judicial power is outlined in Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which grants power to the Supreme Court and to lower federal courts, which the article says should be established by Congress.

That article, as well as several decisions that followed it, have had a direct impact on society today, Gurich said.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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