Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma has been an Associate Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court since 2017. In April 2018, President Trump nominated Justice Wyrick to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. His nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is currently pending before the full United States Senate. Prior to his time on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Justice Wyrick served as Oklahoma’s Solicitor General under then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. He received his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and clerked for Judge James H. Payne of the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
Justice Wyrick authored the majority opinion for the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down a tax on cigarettes. Justice Wyrick determined that under the Oklahoma state constitution, the cigarette tax was a revenue-raising measure requiring passage by a three-fourths legislative supermajority or approval by the people. Because the law was not passed by a supermajority or approved by the people, the court held that it was unconstitutional.
The petitioner sought removal of his name from the state’s registered sex offender list due to a change in state law. The Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting his request. Justice Wyrick dissented, arguing that the changes in state law did not apply retroactively, and that the petitioner should be required to maintain his lifetime sex offender registration.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that plaintiffs injured by a drunk driver could sue the convenience store that sold the driver alcohol if it was sold negligently and recklessly. Wyrick’s dissent stated the decision would lead to “arbitrary impositions of liability.”
As Oklahoma’s Solicitor General, Justice Wyrick defended Oklahoma’s lethal injection death penalty procedure, which received attention after the 2014 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett died of a heart attack after 40 minutes of extraordinary pain and suffering. The procedure was challenged in court and ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015. Wyrick argued on behalf of the State of Oklahoma, defending Oklahoma’s drug protocol.
The State of Oklahoma filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and overturn a Ninth Circuit decision that struck down an Arizona anti-abortion law. This law made it more difficult for women to access abortion-inducing medication. Then-Solicitor General Wyrick argued, “To hold as the Ninth Circuit has done that Arizona cannot so regulate because doing so involves a moderate increase in cost and imposes mild inconveniences would threaten the overall protective framework spanned by the States and the federal government.” The Supreme Court denied certiorari.
As Solicitor General of Oklahoma, Wyrick filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to reverse an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that struck down a pre-abortion ultrasound requirement. Wyrick argued it was “impossible to deny that the state supreme court’s misapplication of federal constitutional law implicates numerous other states’ informed consent statutes and proposals.” The Supreme Court denied certiorari.
In this case that ultimately allowed corporations to deny contraceptive coverage to employees based on religious objection, Oklahoma filed an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby. Then-Solicitor General Wyrick argued that corporations are “persons” with religious rights. The brief spelled out a broad ability to discriminate in the name of religion and stated that a corporation’s “religious faith is no less worthy of respect and protection than is the religious faith practiced by church members.”