NSU President Larry Williams, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Jim Edmondson, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, former U.S. Congressman Brad Carson, NSU Professor of Political Science Dr. Justin Halpern, and former Speaker of the House Larry Adair took part in the inaugural Larry Adair Lectureship Series.
TAHLEQUAH - Politics and the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court justices have gone hand in hand since the founding of this country. That was the general consensus of a distinguished group of panelists at the inaugural Larry Adair Lectureship Series held Sept. 8 at Northeastern State University.
"Supreme Court appointments have always been highly politicized," said Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Jim Edmondson. "Nominations historically are based on ideology. Federalists nominated Federalists, Whigs nominated Whigs."
Jim Edmondson, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, former U.S. Congressman Brad Carson and NSU Professor of Political Science Dr. Justin Halpern were panelists at an open forum, discussing the topic "Appointing a Court - The Supreme Court\'d5s Impact on America."
More than 200 NSU students, faculty, staff, and community members attended the open forum, focusing on the history of Supreme Court appointments and how politics shape the makeup of the court.
Carson argued that though politics have played a part in nominations, social issues that have arisen in the past 30 years have resulted in increased political pressure.
"The selection of Supreme Court justices has always been political, but the dynamics of the political process has changed," said Halpern. "When George Washington made his appointments to the Supreme Court, he wasn't focusing on issues like abortion and gay marriage."
Smith claimed the title of cynic, stating the process of select justices is driven by public sentiment, and the best way to get a favorable judgment was to work to change popular opinion to avoid hostile legislation passed by Congress, avoiding the judicial process all together.
Over the course of history, only 30 Supreme Court nominations have been unsuccessful, because the U.S. Senate wouldn\'d5t give their consent, said Drew Edmondson. But generally the majority of appointments have made it through.
Kauger highlighted the differences between state and federal Supreme Court appointments. In Oklahoma, potential justices apply for a position to a nonpartisan judicial nominating committee, which narrows the field and sends the short slate of nominees to the governor.
Following introductory remarks, panelists answered questions from those in attendance on topics ranging from the changing views of justices to the importance of American Bar Association opinions to term limits for justices.
Former Oklahoma Speaker of the House Larry Adair was recognized at a dinner following the forum for his commitment to improving the lives of Oklahomans and dedication to education and military veterans.
"He has dedicated his time, talents, energy, and frankly his life, to the people of Oklahoma," said NSU President Larry Williams. "His service to this state\'d5s citizens over 22 years should be commended."
Jim Edmondson, keynote speaker at the dinner, was presented with the Larry Adair Lectureship medallion.
The Larry Adair Lectureship Series was established in 2004 by friends and family of the retiring Oklahoma Speaker of the House to create an annual forum to address issues in politics, government and public policy.