Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the Oklahoma Personhood Initiative case of Personhood Oklahoma v. Barber. Last spring, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stopped a citizen’s initiative before it was even placed on the ballot.
The proposed amendment would have defined “person” as “any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death.”
The Oklahoma attorney general had approved the ballot title and summary, and Personhood Oklahoma was in the process of gathering signatures in order to place the issue before the voters, when the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and others filed a lawsuit claiming the proposed amendment was unconstitutional. Ten days later, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the initiative violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Commenting on the case, Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “The Court’s decision not to take up the Oklahoma Personhood initiative has no precedential value. The issue is not about the merits of personhood but about whether a state court can interfere with the rights of citizens to gather signatures to amend their constitutions. On the issue, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision is wrong. But this is by no means the end of the road in Oklahoma. Personhood initiatives will continue to expand throughout the country. The time has come for government to acknowledge what science has long recognized – that human life begins from the moment of conception or fertilization and should be protected in law from its earliest beginnings.”
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.