Dem-Controlled Oregon Supreme Court Blocks 10 Pro-Life Senators from Running for Re-Election

Dem-Controlled Oregon Supreme Court Blocks 10 Pro-Life Senators from Running for Re-Election

Multiple members of the Oregon state Senate who walked out for more than 40 days last year have been banned from the 2024 ballot by an Oregon Supreme Court ruling.

In 2023, nine Republicans and one independent refused to take their seats in a 42-day protest against a bill supporting abortion and health care to support gender transitions, according to KATU.

The walkout came two years after a walkout by Democrats in the Texas legislature denied Republicans a quorum needed to conduct business and pass election legislation, as noted by CBS.

Although the Texas walkout received widespread Democratic support with no major consequences, there was a major difference in Oregon. In 2022, voters passed what’s known as Measure 113.

Measure 113 said “any state legislator who accrues 10 or more unexcused absences during a legislative session shall be disqualified from holding legislative office” immediately following the current term.

As noted by Ballotpedia, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade cited Measure 113 in announcing that all those who walked out could not run after their current terms expire. That led to a lawsuit.

The decision means a little less than it appears on the surface. Of the 10 legislators impacted, two are retiring after this term ends, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Four others were elected in 2022 to four-year terms, meaning they will serve through 2026. Four others who would have been on the ballot this year are covered by the ruling.

Republican state Sen. Suzanne Weber, among those who will serve through 2026, noted the partisan roots of the ruling.

All members of the Oregon Supreme Court were appointed by Democrats, with all those who ruled on the case appointed by former Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Justice Aruna Masih, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek, did not join in the ruling.

“I’m disappointed, but can’t say I’m surprised that a court of judges appointed solely by Gov. Brown and Gov. Kotek would rule in favor of political rhetoric rather than their own precedent,” Weber said. “The only winners in this case are Democrat politicians and their union backers.”

Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, a Republican who can’t run this year because of  the ruling, said the ruling will color the current legislative session because Republicans have nothing to lose by refusing to attend, denying Democrats a quorum.

“If the court sides with us, it’s a clear victory,” Knopp said. “If it doesn’t, I think we still win because our members literally have no reason to show up, and so in order for them to show up, they’re going to want to see that they’re going to be able to make a difference.”

Knopp said senators disagree with the ruling, adding “But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent.”

The core of the case was whether a legislator would be punished in the next term after violating Measure 113 or the term after that. The ruling said the issue was not clear-cut.

“The text of the amendment does not unambiguously support either interpretation. The text would more clearly support petitioners’ reading — and weaken the secretary’s reading — if it referred to ‘the term following the election [that occurs] after the member’s current term is completed,’’’ the ruling said.

The ruling said that the court needed to determine what voters believed Measure 113 meant, noting that on the ballot voters were told that it would be enforced in the next session after the absences.

“Because the text is capable of supporting the secretary’s interpretation, and considering the clear import of the ballot title and explanatory statement in this case, we agree with the secretary that voters would have understood the amendment to mean that a legislator with 10 or more unexcused absences during a legislative session would be disqualified from holding legislative office during the immediate next term, rather than the term after that,” the ruling said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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