Judicial Nominating Chairman Told To Get It Right
From The Offices of Kris Steele and Brian Bingman ~ In a story printed in the Tulsa World today, Judicial Nominating Commission Chairman Allen Smallwood indicated he intends to move forward with the process to nominate a new Supreme Court justice, in spite of changes made by Oklahoma voters to his commission this month with State Question 752.
He also criticized the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate for not yet making their new appointments to the commission as required by the question, saying: "If the will of the people is being thwarted, it's (by) the speaker and president pro tem," Smallwood said in the Tulsa World. "I would have expected them to appoint their two commissioners by now, and they would have been welcomed with open arms."
But House Speaker-elect Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tempore Designate Brian Bingman cannot make their appointments until they are officially elected by their full bodies in January.
The two men issued the following joint statement about Smallwood’s position to continue with the nomination process, despite a clear will of the Oklahoma people to have more input into judicial appointments.
"Mr. Smallwood has made the case of why we must slow down,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “Until legislative leaders are eligible to make their appointments in January the Judicial Nominating Commission should not proceed. We are not thwarting the process and will be ready with our appointments as soon as we can do so by law."
“I will gladly nominate a commissioner after January 4th. Clearly even Mr. Smallwood questions his own timing, otherwise he would not have requested a legal opinion from the attorney general regarding the new law” stated Bingman, R-Sapulpa.
If Smallwood and the Commission continue with the nominating process, six of the 10 members left of the commission will be lawyers, giving them a majority voice into the appointment.
That is specifically what the passage of State Question 752 was meant to prevent.
“Chairman Smallwood said he will only stop the process if told to do so by the governor or the attorney general, but he obviously has forgotten that he works for the people of Oklahoma first and foremost,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “The Commission should not continue its work until the people have a majority voice, not lawyers.”