Oklahoma Republican Wants to Deputize Private Citizens to Sue School Districts

S.B. 8. The draconian new Texas anti-choice lawThis could severely undermine abortion rights at the Supreme Court’s discretion. S.B. 8 severely limits the time you have to have an abortion. 8 basically delegated ordinary citizens to the role as spy against their neighbours.

“The new law in Texas effectively banning most abortions has ignited widespread controversy and debate,” reports The New York Times “in part because of the mechanism it uses to enforce the restrictions: deputizing ordinary people to sue those involved in performing abortions and giving them a financial incentive to do so. The law establishes a type of bounty system. If these vigilante plaintiffs succeed, They can collect cash judgments up to $10,000 under the law — and their legal fees — from those they sue.” (Emphasis added.)

That $10,000 prize jumped up and poked me in the eye again recently, when I came across a report out of Oklahoma regarding the widespread, ongoing effort to ban or stifle certain books deemed “offensive” or “dangerous” to students. This effort was aimed at books that support or offer advice to LGBTQ+ students in Oklahoma.

Republican State Senator. Rob Standridge would grant parents the power of banning books in a truly unprecedented way. “Under Senate Bill 1142, if just one parent objects to a book it must be removed within 30 days,” reportsThe McAlester News – Capital. “If it is not, the librarian must be fired and cannot work for any public school for two years.”

You may also find this little gem in the same. report: “Parents can also receive at least $10,000 per day from school districts if the book is not removed as requested.” (Emphasis added.)

Some things are just too cute for coincidence, even if you call me paranoid.

It is not difficult to see that right-wing think tanks across the country are skilled at producing drafts of legislation on a range of issues. These drafts are used by conservative legislators at the state and federal level to create heavy-handed legislation such as S.B. 8 in Texas and Senate Bill 142 in Oklahoma. The Center for Public Integrity explains:

A two-year investigation was conducted by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity reveals for the first time the extent to which special interests have infiltrated state legislatures using model legislation. USA TODAY and the Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law.

The investigation used a computer algorithm to detect similarities in language and examined nearly 1,000,000 bills from all 50 states and Congress. That search — powered by the equivalent of 150 computers that ran nonstop for months — compared known model legislation with bills introduced by lawmakers. The phenomenon of copycat legislation is much more widespread. The Center for Public Integrity also identified tens to thousands of identical phrases in bills and traced the origins of the language in dozens of these bills across the country.

Model bills passed into law have made it harder for injured consumers to sue corporations. They’ve called for taxes on sugar-laden drinks. They’ve limited access to abortion and restricted the rights of protesters. In all, these copycat bills amount to the nation’s largest, unreported special-interest campaign, driving agendas in every statehouse and touching nearly every area of public policy.

It is also no secret that the Republican Party has seen a significant shift in strategy and tactics in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. They no longer believe they can win elections on policy arguments. Many of the battlefields of the “culture wars” are lost to them as the country grows younger, and as generations devoted to equal rights and climate action move into positions of greater and greater influence.

The new tactics are based solely on muscle money. The new tactics rely solely on muscle and money. If all else fails, invade the Capitol building with violence and attempt to overthrow fair and legal elections.

“Conservatives see no reason to back off of this plan, no matter how much generational replacement occurs,” writesDavid Atkins Washington Monthly. “They have no intention of moderating themselves or their ideas to meet new challenges — in part because it’s impossible to imagine a ‘conservative’ response to the climate crisis, housing costs, or radical inequality that does not decenter conservative white evangelicals who have no intention of giving up ill-gotten power. They only intend to rule — no matter what it takes, and no matter how many lines they cross.”

These $10,000 prize payments are meant to encourage citizens to get behind these horrible pieces of legislation. I’ve never seen it before, much less in two separate states on two separate issues; one could almost make a living off that kind of money if you went pro and did it full time. Abortion bounty hunters, school library plunderers, and other criminals are making a lot of money in Republican World.

This money award idea was presented in two states simultaneously, which makes me believe that there is a guiding force behind it. The subject is not covered in the bills, and there are no reports or press reports indicating outside help. 8 and Senate Bill 1142 were not returned. Unless the Supreme Court does something about it, I think we will continue to see this trick in legislation. There is always a better way.