The Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Amendment

The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a severability analysis was not necessary, since the drafters of the amendment contemplated that parts of the amendment would be pre-empted by federal law:

"It is important to keep in mind that the federal courts in this matter have not declared any provision of the right to work law unconstitutional. Instead, the federal courts have merely held that the right to work law does not apply in certain circumstances due to the primacy of federal law, not that preemption lead to invalidation of any of the right to work law’s provisions. ...

"Just as whether some of the right to work amendment’s provisions were preempted by federal law was a question of federal law, whether the finding of the federal court’s [sic] requires us to engage in severability analysis is a question of state law. We hold that severability analysis is not necessary here for the reason that the right to work law contemplated that some of its provisions might be preempted by federal law and because plaintiffs failed to overcome the presumption that the right to work law is valid and enforceable. Thus, we decline to address plaintiffs’ various legal arguments in support of their claim that the rulings of the federal courts in this matter establish that the voters were somehow mislead [sic]."[37]

Justice Marian P. Opala concurred, noting that state law in the labor field needed to be flexible: "Because federal labor law is neither stagnant nor mummified in its present form, the drafters understood the outer boundaries of [a] right-to-work amendment must be flexible to remain in conformity with present as well as future federal re-definitions."[38]

After receiving the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s answer to the certified question, the 10th Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision. The unions did not seek an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.