- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Norman Transcript, Jan. 28, 2014

Guns do not belong on campus

Oklahoma lawmakers will once again be confronted with legislation that seeks to allow the carrying of handguns on college campuses. It’s becoming an annual debate at the legislature following shootings at college campuses in other parts of the country in the past few years.

The timing is fortuitous as University of Oklahoma officials review the “shots fired” false alarm of the past week. Dozens of law enforcement authorities converged on the College of Architecture Wednesday morning after a faculty member reported hearing what she thought were gunshots.

House Bill 2887 by state Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, would limit the schools’ ability to ban handguns. It also would prohibit the suspension or forfeiture of licenses by gun owners who violate the ban.

Gun rights advocates believe that students and university employees would be safer if licensed gun owners could carry their weapons on campus. Both OU President David Boren and Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson have expressed concern that allowing guns on campus creates a dangerous situation.

“I think what happened today shows that the most unwise thing in the world we can do is put guns in the hands of all the people on campus,” Boren told an afternoon news conference following Wednesday’s incident. “First of all, when the SWAT team comes to a building, and they are trying to protect our students, how do they know whether it’s a good or a bad person? I think the most dangerous thing is that some of those people may be waving weapons and get shot.”

Law enforcement officers don’t want guns on campus either. It’s a matter of campus security and not Second Amendment rights. We hope state Regents stand their ground and resist any attempts to take away schools’ rights to regulate guns on campuses.


The Journal Record, Jan. 27, 2014

Giant steps backward

Among the thousands of bills introduced for the second session of Oklahoma’s 54th Legislature was the usual spate of ideas, ranging from practical to preposterous. Liberals will laugh at a proposal by state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, to protect the rights of second-graders to chew their Pop-Tarts into the shape of Berettas, and conservatives will chuckle as state Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, makes her annual attempt to legalize marijuana. But members of both parties should shudder at the abominable bill filed by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, that would effectively eradicate Oklahoma’s separation of powers.

House Bill 3380 would create a nine-member Board of Judicial Review. Members would handle performance evaluations of the state’s judiciary, from district court judges through Supreme Court justices. They would rate judges on everything from the clarity of their written opinions to the quality of their legal decision-making. The board would poll attorneys, litigants and others for their opinions on the judge’s handling of their case.

The members would also be required to take a “retain,” ”do not retain,” or “no opinion” position when judges are on a retention ballot. Most voters would follow that recommendation, making the panelists the de facto electors.

The governor, president pro tem of the Senate, and speaker of the House would each appoint three members to serve five-year terms. The only rule would be that the appointees could not be practicing lawyers or jurists. That means nine people with no legal training could be critiquing the quality of legal decisions throughout the state, and they would wield a sizable sword.

House Bill 3380 would create a human resources department run by the Legislature to oversee the judiciary. Not only is it duplicitous of the smaller-government-is-better Shannon to create a new, unnecessary agency complete with support staff, it takes the philosophy of a constitutional democracy back more than 300 years and spits on Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

The notion of judicial independence goes back to 1701’s Act of Settlement in England, and French philosopher Montesquieu, who greatly influenced Alexander Hamilton and other Founding Fathers. An independent judiciary was critical to the Constitution’s framers. It remains critical to a free society.

In recent months, China’s top court and security chief have urged the Communist Party to move toward true judicial independence amid a wave of political reform. What a tragedy it would be for the Legislature to move Oklahomans the opposite direction.


Tulsa World, Jan. 27, 2014

Time to permit the full Keystone XL pipeline

The southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline opened quietly last week.

The pipeline from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast will be moving some 300,000 barrels of oil a day. By year’s end that average should be about 520,000 barrel a day.

It’s an important new addition to the nation’s energy infrastructure, but it’s short of what is needed.

The important northern leg of the pipeline, which would connect Cushing to the heavy tar sands crude of Canada is on high center because of Washington, D.C., politics. The pipeline crosses the U.S. border, which means it needs permission from the Obama administration, which is under pressure from environmentalists to block the project.

We agree with Second District U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who said last week that the full pipeline means jobs for the United States. It also would help ensure our energy independence.

The Obama administration ought to stop delaying the project and let the full pipeline be built. Some things - the health of the economy and our national security interests - outweigh politics.

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