The Oklahoma Three, Free at Last
It seemed hardly necessary. The handcuffs and leg-irons, I mean. I wasn’t a threat to anybody. Neither were Rick Carpenter and Susan Johnson.
We had been charged with “conspiracy to defraud the state of Oklahoma” for our work to put a spending cap on the ballot.
The metal constraints were for show — to intimidate us and to scare the good citizens of Oklahoma.
The threatened penalty of ten years in prison was scary, too.
Being innocent, we defended our rights, even as the persecution dragged on for a year and half. Not even a preliminary hearing had been completed. Folks wondered if Attorney General Drew Edmondson was more interested in tying us up politically than in prosecuting us legally.
We never got our day in court; the Constitution intervened. Not only did we not break Oklahoma’s residency law, the federal Tenth Circuit declared the law itself an unconstitutional violation of our First Amendment rights.
So, on January 22nd, the AG dismissed the charges. It was a great day — for all of us.
But the underlying mindset of the original law and prosecution remains. Legislators continue to enact unconstitutional impediments against citizen use of ballot initiatives and recall petitions. Too often, officials seek to punish citizens who assert their rights.
Citizens in chains cannot control their government. That’s why, working with the group Citizens in Charge Foundation, I’ll keep fighting.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.