When it comes to the Constitution, G.T. Blankenship believes in following in the footsteps of the founding fathers.
“I believe the Constitution says what it meant to say; I don’t believe it should be a living document,” said Blankenship, a self-described “strict constructionist.”
“Too often, the provisions of the founding fathers in our Constitution have been eroded by judicial interpretation,” he said. “The Constitution is the most perfect document we have and should be followed to the letter as amended through the years.”
A former Oklahoma attorney general, member of the state House of Representatives and a life-long attorney, Blankenship will be the 17th recipient of the Constitution Award at Rogers State University.
Blankenship, who also is chairman of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, will receive the award at a ceremony and luncheon on Sept. 15 on the RSU campus in Claremore.
He was selected to receive the prestigious award by the RSU Constitution Award Board of Governors. Marian P. Opala, vice-chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and a member of the Board of Governors, will present Blankenship with the award. Opala received the award in 1996.
“We are proud and honored to present Regent Blankenship with this distinguished award,” said RSU President Joe Wiley. “He embodies the virtue of respect that citizens of our country have for their Constitution.”
Each fall since 1987, RSU has presented the Constitution Award to an Oklahoman who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the principles of the Constitution through his or her life’s work.
The award has been presented to Carl Albert, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Henry Bellmon, former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator; Adm. William J. Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom; David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, and former U.S. senator and Oklahoma governor; Judge James O. Ellison, senior U.S. district court judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma; and Alex Adwan, senior editor for the Tulsa World. Last year, the award was presented to Judge Thomas R. Brett, senior U.S. district court judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Blankenship received a law degree from OU in 1954. In 1960, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served as minority floor leader from 1964-66.
During his time in the House, Blankenship was an integral part in uncovering one of Oklahoma’s worst political scandals. In 1965, Speaker of the House J.D. McCarty appointed a special committee to investigate rumors of bribery involving members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After the committee failed to bring forward evidence of guilt, Blankenship presented his fellow House members with information that confirmed the bribes. His announcement caused “pandemonium” on the House floor, he said, and resulted in the resignation of one justice and the impeachment, conviction and removal of another by the Oklahoma Senate.
Subsequently, Blankenship was elected attorney general of the State of Oklahoma and served from 1966 until 1970.
Since then, he has been in private legal practice in Oklahoma City and has served as chairman of the board of the Bank of Nichols Hills. He also has served as chairman of the State Centennial Committee, was on the board of directors for the U.S. Olympic Festival, and has been active in the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
Blankenship was appointed to the OU Board of Regents by Gov. Henry Bellmon in 1990 and was reappointed by Gov. Frank Keating in 1997. He currently is in his last of 14 years (two terms) on the OU Board of Regents, the governing board for RSU.
He and his wife Libby live in Oklahoma City and have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
The Constitution Award luncheon and ceremony are sponsored by the Bank of Commerce. Tickets are $20 per person. To purchase tickets or get more information, call the RSU development office at (918) 343-7773.