Terms Limits Proposal in Oklahoma Would Affect High Court Judges

Proposals for term limits for state Supreme Court justices are among bills under consideration in Oklahoma that would affect the judiciary and judicial selection, Oklahoma Supreme Court Vice Chief Justice Douglas Combs told an American Board of Trial Advocates audience.

TulsaWorld.com reported about Combs’s remarks, “State lawmakers are considering changing today’s court system that includes term limits for the appellate courts to 12 years, reducing the Oklahoma Bar Association involvement in the judicial selection and requiring Senate confirmation for the chief justice.” Combs voiced concern about how the term limits proposal, if enacted, would affect judges’ willingness to serve. 

A recent Gavel to Gavel report on court-related legislation in the states says the proposed constitutional amendment would set 12-year term limits for Oklahoma Supreme Court justices. Gavel to Gavel is a publication of the National Center on State Courts, a Justice at Stake partner organization.

State Rep. Kevin Calvey has proposed a switch from a merit-based selection system for top Oklahoma judges, to popular election. “Our current system of selecting state Supreme Court jurists is not transparent, not accountable to the people and is dominated by the lawyers’ special interest group,” Calvey said recently, according to aTulsa World article. “No wonder we get outrageous state Supreme Court decisions,” he said, mentioning several he disagreed with.