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ScissorTales: Law, Constitution didn't jibe

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: August 17, 2013

A pointless but popular law is on the cutting room floor today. Solid arguments against its passage in 2010 failed to convince voters that State Question 755 was indefensible.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange has voided SQ 755, which was an attempt to circumvent application of Sharia law in Oklahoma. The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote. A legal challenge was filed days after the election. Miles-LaGrange enjoined the law from taking effect until the case was adjudicated.

Thus, SQ 755 never actually became law. From the time it was passed until Thursday's ruling from Miles-LaGrange, here is the number of attempts to apply Sharia law in Oklahoma: zero.

The constitutional questions upon which the challenge to SQ 755 was made didn't relate to Sharia law applications. They related to the constitutional rights of the plaintiff. This will be seen by SQ 755 supporters as judicial activism, a federal judge's move to impose on the people her own dislike of the measure. Not true.

SQ 755 was unconstitutional on its face. It was clear it would be challenged and cost the state precious resources to defend it. Those costs would continue if state officials choose to appeal. We urge them to let it go.

Supporters won't let it go, however. They will lament that a judge overturned the will of the people. But our system allows voters to make laws as long as they stay within consitutional guidelines. This one did not.

Hype over substance

This week state Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, issued a news release breathlessly announcing, “Nearly every state legislator with a prison in their district has signed onto a petition calling for corrections funding to be addressed if a special session is called ...” That's less impressive than it sounds. Only nine senators and 12 House members signed the petition, which is roughly 19 percent of senators and 12 percent of House members. That's hardly a groundswell of support for a special session on corrections. It takes a majority to pass legislation. We've noted before that lawmakers need to take public safety seriously, particularly by funding previously approved corrections reforms. Also, prison workers' pay likely needs adjusting. But those issues should have been dealt with in the regular legislative session. If Blackwell and his allies couldn't build support for addressing the issue then, they've provided little reason to believe things are different now.

High-dollar companions

President Barack Obama is vacationing this week at tony Martha's Vineyard, as he has each summer of his presidency. His lodging is a $7 million, 5,000-square-foot home rented from one of his Chicago buddies. He played golf Sunday with Wall Street consultant (and Obama campaign fundraiser) Robert Wolf, among others. On Monday his group included Washington insider Vernon Jordan and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. On Wednesday, he golfed with Kirk, Comcast executive Brian Roberts and the president of World Bank, Jim Kim. For someone who has spent much of his presidency demonizing the wealthy and successful in this country, Obama sure hangs out with an awful lot of them.

Newtown fallout

Following the Newtown, Conn., shooting spree, President Barack Obama promoted new gun control laws. He often used Newtown residents as living props at events, including relatives of the children killed. Today, that agenda item has been derailed; Obama seldom mentions the issue. One reason for gun control's failure is illustrated by the actions of Newtown residents Obama didn't invite to news conferences. The Wall Street Journal reports firearm permits in Newtown significantly exceeded last year's 12-month total by July 24. Statewide gun sales in Connecticut are on pace to surpass last year's total by October, and last year's total was more than double the number sold in 2000. “I think people realize that you can't call the police all the time and expect them to save you,” Newtown resident Bill Stevens told the Journal. “It's sinking in to some folks that ‘I need to take responsibility for keeping my family safe.'”

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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