NOVA HEALTH SYSTEMS v. EDMONDSON

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NOVA HEALTH SYSTEMS v. EDMONDSON
2010 OK 21
233 P.3d 380
Case Number: 107592
Decided: 03/02/2010

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

NOVA HEALTH SYSTEMS, D/B/A/ REPRODUCTIVE SERVICES, on behalf of itself, its staff, and its patients, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
(1) W.A. DREW EDMONDSON, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Oklahoma; (2) TIM HARRIS, in his official capacity as Tulsa County District Attorney; (3) TERRY L. CLINE, in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision; and (4) CHERYL A. VAUGHT, in her official capacity as President of the Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Defendants/Appellants.

DISPOSITION BY ORDER

Upon consideration of the record, briefs, transcripts, the motion for oral argument, the application for leave to file amicus curiae brief, the petition in error, and the response thereto, in the above styled and numbered cause, THE COURT FINDS:

1. The dispositive issue before us is the applicability of the one-subject rule pursuant to art. 5, §57 of the Oklahoma Constitution

2. Art. 5, §57 of the Oklahoma Constitution provides: "Every act of the Legislature shall express but one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title. . . ."

a) to ensure that the legislators or voters of Oklahoma are adequately notified of the potential effect of the legislation

b) to prevent "logrolling,"

The single subject rule applies to legislative acts promulgated through the initiative process, as well as those promulgated through the Legislature.

3. This concept has been recognized by the Court since statehood. In In re County Commissioners of Counties Comprising Seventh Judicial Dist.,

...Each subject brought into the deliberation of the legislative department of the government is to be considered and voted on singly, without having associated with it any other measure to give it strength. Experience had shown that measures having no common purpose, and each wanting sufficient support on its merits to secure its enactment, have been carried through legislative bodies and enacted into laws. when neither measure could command or merit the approval of a majority of that body.

4. Over the last two decades we have addressed the single subject rule at least seven times. Johnson v. Walters,

5. We are growing weary of admonishing the Legislature for so flagrantly violating the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution. It is a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of the taxpayer's money. The Legislature ignored our earlier opinions, especially Campbell v. White,

...Because Senate Bill 142 and Senate Bill 725 contain a multiplicity of provisions unrelated to a common theme or purpose, they are unconstitutional.

This is the is the second time in less than two years that this Court has been called upon to determine whether legislatively enacted laws are unconstitutional for violation of the single-subject mandate. . . We trust a third opinion will not be necessary. Our consideration for the practical operations of government should not be understood to be a shield for the continued enactment of unconstitutional laws. Although we are sympathetic with the time constraints the Legislature faces in session, this Court is bound to uphold the Constitution -- we are prepared to do so.

6. We continued to uphold the Constitution in Fent v. State of Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority,

7. Nevertheless, because the Legislature did not have the benefit of Fent v. State of Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority,

8. Because Senate Bill No. 1878 is so obviously violative of the one-subject rule mandated by the terms of art. 5, §57 of the Oklahoma Constitution, it is unconstitutional and void. Therefore, additional briefing by amicus curie, as well as oral argument, is denied because it is unnecessary and would cause counterproductive delay.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that the motion for oral argument, and the motion to file an amicus brief be denied and the order of the District Court be, and is hereby, affirmed.

DONE BY ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT IN CONFERENCE THIS 1ST DAY OF MARCH, 2010.

/S/CHIEF JUSTICE

EDMONDSON, C.J., HARGRAVE, KAUGER, TAYLOR, WATT, COLBERT, JJ., concur.

OPALA, WINCHESTER, REIF, JJ., concur in result.

FOOTNOTES

1 The Oklahoma Constitution, art. 5, §57 provides:

Every act of the Legislature shall embrace but one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except general appropriation bills, general revenue bills, and bills adopting a code, digest, or revision of statutes; and no law shall be revived, amended, or the provisions thereof extended or conferred, by reference to its title only; but so much thereof as is revived, amended, extended, or conferred shall be re-enacted and published at length: Provided, That if any subject be embraced in any act contrary to the provisions of this section, such act shall be void only as to so much of the law as may not be expressed in the title thereof.

The Oklahoma Constitution, art. 5, §56 similarly provides: