Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Patrick Wyrick, an attorney with the office of the state attorney general, has been named to the state Supreme Court.
Fallin’s first opportunity to name a justice to the state High Court six years after her inauguration. Under the state’s system, members of the state Supreme Court appear on statewide retention ballots every six years, and can hold office so long as they are healthy and secure voter approval.
Oklahoma governors must choose justices from a list of three names submitted by the Judicial Nomination Commission. Members of the court come from judicial districts representing every part of the state. Wyrick takes the post held previously by Steven Taylor, who announced his resignation last year.
As Oklahoma’s Solicitor General since 2011, Wyrick represented the Sooner State at every level of the court system, including both the state and the U.S. Supreme Court. Both Taylor and Wyrick come from the Second Judicial District.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt commented on Fallin’s pick: “Patrick is an exceptional choice to serve on our state’s Supreme Court. As a constitutional scholar well-versed in both state and federal law, Patrick will bring a robust judicial philosophy to his work on the Court. More than a superb lawyer, I have come to know Patrick over the years as a dear friend and trusted counselor. His wisdom, compassion, and integrity are unparalleled among the many public servants with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.
“Serving as Oklahoma’s first Solicitor General, he has played an integral role in the state’s effort to defend the rule of law. Patrick will be greatly missed, but I take comfort in knowing that his passion in serving the people of Oklahoma will continue in this new capacity.”
When she tapped Wyrick for the job, the state’s chief executive said, “Patrick Wyrick is well positioned to tackle the difficult constitutional questions the Oklahoma Supreme Court must confront. He has litigated several significant constitutional law cases involving almost every frequently litigated provision in our state constitution. I have confidence he will perform his new duties with integrity and professionalism.”
In state cases, Wyrick’s most consequential success could be his defense of the Lindsay Nicole Henry Scholarships. Enacted in 2010, and signed into law by former Governor Brad Henry, the underlying legislation allows parents of special needs children to access resources in government programs created to support children of varied disabilities, including the use of those resources in private institutions.
In case law and in appellate filings, Wyrick argued (on behalf of the state) that the beneficiaries of those programs are the children, not the institutions in which they are executed and (in summary) can and should follow the child.
Last summer, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the underlying rationale of the school choice movement, reaching a conclusion similar to Wyrick’s reasoning in rejecting the anti-choice contentions of several school districts and a variety of organizations.
In federal cases, Wyrick has crafted Oklahoma’s arguments against expansive federa power, including portions of the Affordable Care Act.
A fourth-generation Atoka native, Wyrick’s family runs a lumber company based in his home town and in Hugo.
In a press release from the office of Gov. Fallin, Wyrick said, “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent my hometown district as a member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. I will continue to work hard and do my best to serve the people of this great state. I have committed myself to public service, and my years as Oklahoma solicitor general have offered me the opportunity to routinely litigate cases before the Supreme Court. I am uniquely familiar with the high court’s jurisprudence.”
Wyrick is a product of the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his bachelor’s in sociology and criminology, and a juris doctorate from the college of law. Before joining the attorney general’s office, he worked as an associate at the GableGotwals firm, and clerk to Judge James Payne in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Oklahoma in Muskogee. Wyrick is married. He and his wife Jamie have three children.
Trent England, a vice president for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, praised Wyrick’s philosophical underpinnings, calling him an outstanding addition to Oklahoma’s high court. Whether arguing before the courts or guiding the Attorney General’s Federalism Unit, Patrick has consistently stood up for the constitutional principles that have made our state and country successful. Congratulations to the Governor on this solid conservative choice.