Logrolling: Court Throws Out Law Limiting Lawsuits

Jun 4, 2013

The Oklahoma Supreme Court says a law adopted in 2009 to reform Oklahoma's civil justice system is unconstitutional.

Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court
Credit Oklahoma Supreme Court 2013

The state's highest court handed down the decision Tuesday in a divided 7-2 ruling. In a separate decision, the court said a requirement that injured people submit a certificate of merit before they can file professional malpractice lawsuits is unconstitutional.

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling, as the court has chosen to legislate from the bench instead of exercising judicial restraint," said Fred Morgan, State Chamber of Oklahoma president and CEO.

The court's majority opinion states that the 2009 law violated the single subject rule in the OklahomaConstitution and is unconstitutional logrolling, or the passing of legislation that contains multiple subjects. The court says the bill contains 90 sections involving a variety of subjects that do not reflect a common theme.

“Regrettably, the activist judges on this court have shown they will continue to anoint themselves the ultimate arbiter of the state’s social, moral and legal values," Morgan said. "It is clear Oklahomans need to take a serious look at revising our state Constitution to protect the people from an activist judiciary.”

A coalition of consumer advocacy groups and attorneys fought the bill, claiming it would block Oklahomans' access to the state's courts.