Oklahoma Court: Personhood Amendment Unconstitutional

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2012   |   4:19PM   |   Oklahoma City, OK

Yesterday, the highest court in Oklahoma ruled that the personhood amendment backers hoped to get on the state ballot is unconstitutional. The court blocked it, saying it was “void on its face” because the nation’s highest court has already ruled on the issue of abortion.

Personhood Oklahoma, a state affiliate of Personhood USA, filed the ballot initiative on March 1 hoping to be able to have until the end of May to gather the 15,000 required signatures needed to get the measure, that would purportedly ban abortions, on the state ballot.

While some pro-life advocates support Personhood Amendments, others recognize the only way to end abortions is to first change the makeup of the Supreme Court to pave the way for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. They have said courts, like the Oklahoma Supreme Court, will overturn Personhood Amendments as conflicting with Roe until the high court has a better composition of judges — which can only be obtained by defeating pro-abortion President Barack Obama this November.

The Supreme Court has also ruled on personhood amendments previously and indicated they amount to a statement of position on behalf of the state and are not able to ban abortions in and of themselves.

After Personhood Oklahoma filed the ballot initiative, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and the Center for Reproductive Rights brought forward a lawsuit on behalf of abortion advocates. On April 30, repeatedly citing Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court denied Personhood Oklahoma’s right to petition, ruling the ballot measure “unconstitutional.”

Today, Gualberto Garcia Jones, of Personhood USA, said his group will appeal the ruling.

“If Oklahoma citizens are denied the opportunity to do so, our only recourse is to petition the Supreme Court,” he said.



Steve Crampton, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, who represents Personhood Oklahoma, said: “This ruling epitomizes judicial overreaching. It not only misinterprets and misapplies federal constitutional law, but it also denies states’ rights and strips Oklahomans of their right to petition for a substantive change in state law, which is guaranteed under the state constitution. We are hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will reverse this decision.”

While five U.S. Supreme Court justices are required for a favorable ruling, only four are required to approve a petition for certiorari.

The amendment reads, “A ‘person’ as referred to in Article 2, Section 2 of this Constitution shall be defined as any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death. The inherent rights of such person shall not be denied without due process of law and no person as defined herein shall be denied equal protection under the law due to age, place of residence or medical condition.”