Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Oust Governor over Oath

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Oust Governor over Oath

Article excerpt

Associated Press

The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected on Thursday a bid to oust embattled Gov. David Walters through a lawsuit claiming Walters was not lawfully sworn into office in 1991.

The one-page order found, in essence, that the constitutional oath Walters took was the proper one.

It was issued one day after the court heard oral arguments in the lawsuit, which was filed after Walters pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campign law violation.

Walters said the quick ruling showed the lawsuit had no merit.

"We're pleased they acted as quickly as they did," he said. "The purpose of filing this lawsuit was not to win. It was to generate a whole series of negative headlines and it succeeded."

Although Walters won his latest court battle, he continues to be the target of a Republican-led impeachment effort that will spill into his final year in office.

The speed of the court's decision was a surprise since Chief Justice Ralph Hodges had indicated justices might not rule on the case until January.

The ruling was on a lawsuit brought by Senate Minority Leader Howard Hendrick, R-Bethany.

A detailed order from the court is to be issued at a later date.

House Speaker Glen Johnson noted the ruling cleared one of two obstacles in the path of a second meeting of House Democrats to discuss whether the GOP impeachment move should be considered at a special session or at the regular session, which begins in February.

House Democrats huddled earlier this month and voted to delay considering a special session until after the ruling in the Hendrick case and the final report of the multicounty grand jury that probed Walters' 1990 campaign finances.

The grand jury issued 20 indictments, including one naming Walters. The Democratic governor pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor campaign violation, while eight felony counts were dismissed. …

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