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Oklahoma Lawmaking: A Trifecta Of Stupidity


What the heck is going on in Oklahoma?

In the past two weeks alone, Oklahoma lawmakers have presented an unparalleled trifecta of stupidity, including the following:

  1. A resolution to impeach President Obama based on a requirement that federally-funded schools accommodate transgender students by allowing appropriate bathroom use.
  2. An appellate court ruling declaring that forcing oral sex on an unconscious girl isn’t a crime under the Oklahoma penal code.
  3. A patently unconstitutional bill criminalizing the performing of an abortion.

Oklahoma seems to have a serious problem understanding the American legal system. And I don’t mean because I disagree with the content of Oklahoma’s legal actions, that I disagree with Oklahoma’s right to carry out those actions. I mean that we have an entire state operating with some sort of legislative wild-west mentality, because it either can’t comprehend or simply doesn’t care about rules of government.

During this contentious election season, I’ve heard many people lament that our political system is out of control.   Over and over, I’ve heard the question, “how did things get so crazy?” Well, listen up, because here we have the seeds from which the tree of political lunacy will grow. Oklahoma has gone rogue. Its political elite have clearly decided to part with reality and operate within constructs of their own imagination.

On one front, State Senator Anthony Sykes and Representative John Bennett have spearheaded a resolution to impeach President Obama, arguing that the federal mandate to accommodate transgender students is “biblically wrong.”  Important as I know religion is to many lawmakers, I’d like to believe that most are at least vaguely familiar with the separation of church and state. I mean, “biblically” wrong? It’s one thing to be influenced by religion. It’s a whole other world of crazy to threaten to impeach a world leader because he doesn’t Jesus well enough.

But even if these clowns had come up with a less ridiculous criticism of the federal directive, they’d still be wrong.   Like any holder of purse strings, the federal government is obviously entitled to put conditions on the money it doles out. This is nothing new. For years, federal highway funds have been conditioned on states meeting standards for drinking ages, speed limits and motorcycle helmets. Federal education funds have been conditioned on a 180-day school year, or meeting minimum academic standards. The concept is hardly controversial, and is usually filed under “things you accept when you’re hoping someone gives you money.”   The idea that conditioning funds on maintaining a policy of non-discrimination is an impeachable offense is asinine. That Oklahoma is offended to the point of mutiny by its obligation to treat transgender children like actual people is shameful.

Those who aren’t wasting taxpayer dollars leading an absurd crusade against the president are disgracing the statehouse with general incompetence. In a one-two punch of Sooner-state idiocy, the highest court ruled that the Oklahoma’s forcible sodomy statute doesn’t make it a crime to have oral sex with an unconscious victim. A winning combo of bad drafting and worse interpretation resulted in a holding that it was perfectly legal for a seventeen year-old alleged rapist to force oral sex on an unconscious sixteen year-old girl. Good to know Oklahoma’s judiciary and legislature are equally committed to combatting sexual assault. Maybe they’d have been more interested if the victim had been attacked in a bathroom.

You’d think that following the oral sex case, the Okie legislature would have gotten to work fixing up that sodomy statute – but no such luck. Instead, it focused its attention on the far more pressing matter of “protecting women” from their own reproductive choices.  The anti-abortion bill rounded out the Oklahoma legislature’s attempt to operate in a bizarre legal and logical vacuum of its own creation.

These people really wish it were legal to prohibit abortion. But it just isn’t. Oklahoma’s choice to knowingly create a law that is blatantly unconstitutional is a disgraceful misuse of legislative authority. The citizens of Oklahoma delegated the important function of drafting laws to their elected officials; misusing their time, constituents’ trust, and taxpayer dollars to irresponsibly draft legislative garbage is an abuse of the public trust. Responsible parents teach our children that they must follow the rules, even when they disagree with those rules. Such a commitment is necessary to maintain an ordered society. By attempting to circumvent well-settled federal law, the Oklahoma legislature has set an untenable example of lawlessness and disrespect for its citizens.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed the anti-abortion bill on Friday, indicating that there may be some limits to the metaphorical inmates running the asylum out there – but she wasn’t exactly inspiring in her leadership. Fallin, still hopeful that Trump will give her a VP nod, lamely justified her veto with the bill’s being “too vague.” Fallin knows damn well that the bill quite clearly violates federal law and couldn’t possibly withstand Constitutional muster; as a governor, she is obligated to publicly respect the law.   But given the choice between responsible leadership and political pandering, abortion-for-votes wins every time in Oklahoma.

There are people living in Oklahoma who are not ignorant, illogical bigots. But those people are apparently at the mercy of their state officials. Things out there have clearly escalated to crisis level. Oklahoma’s government has become our collective grandpa behind the wheel of the car, and Oklahoma’s citizens are riding in the backseat. At first, we really wanted him to keep his independence, but now, the signs that he’s lost his marbles are too big for us to ignore the danger he poses.




This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos