Always Right: Ritze speaks up on Pruitt lawsuit and on the Decalogue

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, joined a group of colleagues last week in sending a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt expressing an array of concerns over a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska.

The suit filed this month in the U.S. Supreme Court urged the High Court to invalidate Colorado voters’ 2012 decision to end the prohibition of marijuana in the state.

The lawsuit argues that Colorado’s decision to end marijuana prohibition under state law, despite federal statutes and United Nations treaties criminalizing the substance, harms neighboring states and violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Ritze argues that the lawsuit, if successful, could have serious implications for the Sooner State.

“This is not about marijuana at its core — it is about the U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, and the right of states to govern themselves as they see fit,” Ritze said in a press statement.

“If the Supreme Court can force Colorado to criminalize a substance or activity and commandeer state resources to enforce extra-constitutional federal statutes and UN agreements, then it can essentially do anything, and states become mere administrative units for Washington, D.C.

“That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind and that is not what the people of Oklahoma stand for. The Constitution reserved the police power to the states, therefore states are the proper venue for determining what their own civil and criminal codes should be, not the federal government or the UN [United Nations].

“Our Founding Fathers intended the states to be laboratories of self-government, free to tinker and experiment with different ideas. The founders, from Jefferson to Madison, were also strong proponents of states nullifying unconstitutional federal actions. If the people of Colorado want to end prohibition of marijuana, while I may personally disagree with the decision, constitutionally speaking, they are entitled to do so. Neither the commerce clause nor the supremacy clause grants the federal government the power to regulate intrastate trade or commandeer state and local resources in pursuit of a policy.

“If citizens of that state don’t like it, they are free to use the process to change the laws or move to another state. The last thing we need is the federal government and the UN trying to dictate our criminal codes and control our commercial activities.”

In other news, Rep. Ritze, who paid for the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, released the following statement concerning the monument, which replaced the original destroyed in October.

“While the destruction of the original monument was tragic, this replacement is identical in every respect and we look forward to it standing the test of time. This memorial and its installation are the result of private efforts and funds. The Suhor Industries has graciously agreed to construct and donate the monument again. As funds are received, we hope to attempt to reimburse them in the near future for their efforts.”

The monument to the Decalogue (Ten Laws) is located east of the north side Capitol exterior.

In the statement, Ritze summarized the legal argument for constitutionality of this and similar monuments:

1. The Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma;

2. The courts of the United States of America and of various states frequently cite the Ten Commandments in published decisions; and

3. Acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America.

House Bill 1330, by Ritze, was enacted in 2009. It notes that “The placement of this monument shall not be construed to mean that the State of Oklahoma favors any particular religion or denomination thereof over others, but rather will be placed on the Capitol grounds where there are numerous other monuments.”

The American Civil Liberties Union in the state (ACLU-Oklahoma) is pressing litigation to force removal of the Ten Commandments monument at the seat of state government. The original monument was destroyed last year when a man, later determined to be mentally troubled, plowed over it with an automobile.

At the time, Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)-Oklahoma, said in a statement.

“The ACLU of Oklahoma and our clients are outraged at this apparent act of vandalism. While we have and continue to seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds through the judicial process, the Ten Commandments constitute a strong foundation in our clients’ deeply held religious beliefs. To see the Ten Commandments desecrated by vandals is highly offensive to them as people of faith.”

Summarizing his argument against the monument, Kiesel continued, “Our Oklahoma and Federal Constitutions seek to create a society in which people of all faiths and those of no faith at all can coexist as equals without fear of repressions from the government or their neighbors. Whether it is politicians using religion as a political tool or vandals desecrating religious symbols, neither are living up to the full promise of our founding documents.”