The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday advanced a measure to modernize the Oklahoma Supreme Court district boundaries in order to increase the pool of qualified applicants eligible to fill judicial vacancies in the future.
House Bill 2366, by Senate principal author Julie Daniels, modifies the boundaries of the Supreme Court district map to align with the state’s five congressional districts and establishes four at-large seats beginning July 1, 2020. The measure also sets the boundaries for the Court of Criminal Appeals judicial districts to be the boundaries of the five Oklahoma congressional districts. The legislation does not affect any sitting justice and does not prohibit them seeking retention.
The nine judicial districts were drawn in 1967 following a Constitutional amendment to eliminate judicial elections. The amendment created a judicial nominating commission method of recommending judicial nominees to the governor for appointment. There are approximately 13,000 members of the Oklahoma Bar Association, with a significant percentage of practicing attorneys living and working in metropolitan areas.
“By modernizing the map to reflect today’s congressional districts, we are enlarging the pool of qualified candidates to fill judicial vacancies in the future,” said Daniels, R-Bartlesville. “Creating four statewide districts means all those who wish to apply for consideration will have a five in nine chance to be selected as a judicial nominee.”
The Senate vote on HB 2366 was 34-13. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.