Sen. Jonathan Nichols will play an important role in determining whether the Legislature will redraw Oklahoma’s judicial districts based on 2010 Census data. Senate President Pro Tempore Designate Brian Bingman recently announced that the Norman Republican will serve as Judicial Vice Chairman on the Senate Redistricting Committee.
The Committee will soon consider adjusting district boundaries to accommodate reapportionment and population changes throughout the state. Oklahoma’s Supreme Court district boundaries have remained constant since 1968, while Congressional and legislative boundaries have been adjusted to account for population changes every ten years.
“I’m honored to have been chosen for this position and I look forward to working with committee members throughout the redistricting process,” said Nichols, R-Norman. “Oklahoma’s Constitution clearly vests the legislature with the responsibility to make any needed changes in judicial boundaries. The Constitution further grants the legislature authority to review and amend the size of the Court to ensure efficiency and proper apportionment.”
The Oklahoma Constitution sets the number of Supreme Court Justices at nine but then further provides, “until the number shall be changed by statute, and each Justice shall be from a separate district of the state”.
Bingman said Nichols will help serve as a point person in the Senate on activity and issues related to judicial reapportionment.
“We have a responsibility to preserve fairness in the electoral process, and redistricting is a very important part of that effort,” Bingman said.
Nichols’ responsibilities will also include reviewing the structure and performance of the Courts of Criminal and Civil Appeals in light of new census data.
The Court of Criminal Appeals is Oklahoma’s highest court for criminal matters. The Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate appellate court in the State of Oklahoma. Its cases are assigned to it by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the State’s highest court for civil matters.
“The Civil Appeals Court was created by the legislature pursuant to statutory authority,” said Nichols. “It’s important that we review the Courts’ structure and functions in light of the new census information to ensure that they are performing efficiently and effectively.”
In addition to serving as Judicial Vice Chairman of Redistricting, Nichols has also been named Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, and Vice Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.