Monday, October 11, 2010

Well established case law says House Bill 3393 is constitutional

It is well established case law that a legislative act is presumed to be constitutional and will be upheld unless it is clearly, palpably and plainly inconsistent with the Constitution (1). The Oklahoma Supreme Court has consistently held that statutes should be construed whenever possible so as to uphold their constitutionality (2). There is no indication that the provisions of HB 3393 are plainly inconsistent with the Constitution. While the specific provisions of HB 3393 have not yet been reviewed by any court, other scholarship programs that were “neutral” or “of direct benefit to students” have been upheld by the Supreme Court and other courts. The unconstitutionality of a statute may not be urged by resort to hypothetical applications (3).

The rules on construing legislative language have also been clearly set by the courts. Construction which would render the legislation absurd must be avoided; rational constructions are favored if language fairly permits (4). It is clear that the language in HB 3393 is mandatory and requires a public school to administer the payment of a scholarship upon the request of an eligible participant.

(1) Matter of Daniel Deborah and Leslie H., Okl, 591 P 2d 1175 (1979); In re Napier, Okl. , 532 P 2d 423 (1975).

(2) City of Norman v. Liddell, Okl., 596 P 2d 879 (1979); Newman v. Tax Commission, Okl., 596 P 2d 530 (1979); Post Oak Oil Co. v. Okla. Tax Commission, Okl., 575 P 2d 964 (1978); Ruble v. Redden, Okl., 517 P 2d 1124 (1973).

(3) In re Napier, Okl., 532 P 2d 423 (1975).

(4) In re Vrooman's Estate, 206 Okl. 8 , 240 P 2d 754 (1954); John C. Winston Co. v. Vaughan, 11 F. Supp. 954 (W.D.Okl. 1935) affmd. Vaughan v. John C. Winston Co., 83 F.2d 370 (10th Cir. 1936); City of Enid v. Champlin Refining Co., 112 Okl. 168, 240 P. 604 (1925).
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