Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Court's decision on the Ten Commandments

The Court's decision on the Ten Commandments is now available for download on the Court's docket.  The main decision was entered on July 27, 2015, along with five separate opinions joined by various combinations of the nine justices.  These five separate opinions give Oklahomans great insight into the justices' views of the law on Oklahoma's establishment clause.  Required reading for any Oklahoma interested in our State's Constitution and constitutional law.  Find the decision and separate opinions in PDF form, linked here:  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Our constitutional dispute

Our "constitutional dispute" is making national news.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.  First, no one is in violation of court orders yet.  The matter remains on appeal until mandate is issued, which will be after the rehearing process (whether granted or denied).  Once mandate is issued, the mandate must be "spread of record."  And the Supreme Court's order suggests further proceedings on remand, presumably consisting of some motions dealing with how the Supreme Court's decision will be memorialized in the trial court.  That does take time.  But we can expect the plaintiffs to seek swift movement.  Second, the Governor's statement does not state that she will order a violation of the Court order.  It just says (i) we respect rule of law, (ii) we will seek further proceedings, (iii) we will seek a constitutional amendment, and (iv) the memorial isn't going anywhere.  This leaves her leeway to order compliance with the court order once it is enforceable.  Third, I don't think it will be the governor who will be in contempt as she is not a party.  The party defendant is the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority.  The Authority is represented by the OKAG.  It is not clear yet whether the OKAG will sponsor or allow contempt of court.  I will be watching this one closely, as it has the potential to turn into a constitutional crisis.  But it isn't there yet.