Background

Background: The Oklahoma Supreme Court functions under a Chief Justice and is the judiciary system for the State of Oklahoma. There are five types of courts that function under the judiciary: Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Courts of General Jurisdiction, an Immediate Appellate Court, Special Courts, and Courts of Last Resort. Under the Courts of Last Resort, there is the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is Oklahoma’s last resort court to hear all civil cases and also all matters that concern the Oklahoma constitution. The Court of Immediate Appeal comes into play because the Oklahoma Supreme Court does not have the time or the resources to hear all cases that are brought before them. When a case has been brought forward to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the court may decide to send the case to one of the four divisions of the Civil Court of Appeals. Under the Courts of General Jurisdiction, we have the District Courts. The District Courts have been known to be the “backbone” of the Oklahoma judiciary. They have the jurisdiction over most civil and criminal matters. Within the Special Courts there are the Workers Compensation Court and the Court of Tax Review. The Workers Compensation Court consists of ten judges that hear all workers compensation claims. If the judge’s ruling is disapproved by a party, then the judge may appeal to a three-judge panel known as Court En Banc and be heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Court of Tax Review hears disputes that involve county or city governments that could possibly be imposing improper taxes. Under the Court of Limited Jurisdiction, resides the Municipal Courts. The Municipal Courts operate the under the administration of the Supreme Court and are courts of no record. District Courts hear the appeals from the Municipal Courts. They have jurisdiction over only city ordinances that are within violation.
The purpose of the Oklahoma Supreme court is one of the two courts of last resort. Civil matters are brought forward to the Oklahoma Supreme Court while the Oklahoma Court of Appeals hears all criminal cases. For a case to be heard at the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the case must present the question purely of state law. The Oklahoma Supreme Court takes in account both the state and federal constitutions when making a decision. There is total discretion when the Supreme Court is making a decision in which cases it will hear. The Supreme Court any court papers filed in the case and written arguments or briefs of the lawyers.
Two Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices are Douglas L. Combs and Yvonne Kauger. Douglas L. Combs is the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice of District 8 and Yvonne Kauger is the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice of District 4. Yvonne was born in Cordell of 1937. She graduated as her classes Valedictorian in 1955 of Colony High School and attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. She graduated 1st in her class of 1969 at Oklahoma City University of Law night school. Kauger’s counties include Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Ellis, Woods, Woodward, Dewey, Roger Mills, Beckham, Washita, Custer, Blaine, Kingfisher, Garfield, Major, and Alfalfa county. Douglas L. Combs was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma on October 17, 1951. In 1969 he graduated from Shawnee High School and attended one year of college on an athletic scholarship at St. Gregory’s Junior College. It was not until 1973 that he had received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. During the year of 1955 in January, Combs began his judicial career for the twenty-third Judicial District as a Special Judge, serving Lincoln and Pottawatomie Counties. As his time as a special judge, Combs had become responsible in the twenty-third Judicial District for the establishment of the first Drug Court. Douglas’ counties include Logan, Payne, Noble, Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Ponotoc, Hughes, Coal, and Okfusgee county.
Senate Bill 845 was bill that would allow a $1.50 tax on all packs of cigarette purchases. All the money made from this taxation would be directed towards the state’s budget deficit. The bill was deemed unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It was branded as a revenue bill by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in an attempt to avoid such classification. Senate Bill 845 was still passed even though it was estimated to fill over $200 million of the state’s budget deficit. The ruling said that the Smoking Cessation and Affordable Care Act did not state that the purpose of this $1.50 tax was to reduce smoking and they also did not mention any kind of non-revenue raising purpose.
Summary: Former U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell is arguing that the “fee” that was put onto a pack of cigarettes is in violation of the U.S. constitution and is unconstitutional. The court justices were faced by a question brought by the case and that was whether or not Senate Bill 845 is a “revenue raising” measure. The court justices ruled that it was in violation of Article V, Section 33. Oklahoma Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani was faced with tough questions from the Supreme Court Justices. Mansinghani argued that the bill was about saving lives, reducing smoking habits, and public safety.