Oregon Court Bars 10 Sitting Republicans From Re-Election

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The Oregon Supreme Court’s recent decision to prevent 10 Republican state senators from seeking re-election this year is a clear example of partisan politics infiltrating the judiciary. These senators, who took a principled stand during a record-long boycott last summer to block extreme bills promoting abortion access for minors, transgender procedures, medical intervention, and addressing ghost guns, are now being targeted by a Democrat-stacked court.

The Oregon Senate Republican Caucus is rightfully alarmed, accusing the court of siding with Democrats and union cronies on Measure 113, despite what they argue is the straightforward language of the Constitution. The court’s decision essentially wipes out the representation of 10 Republican senators, making up a significant portion of the Oregon Senate, and raises serious questions about the judiciary’s impartiality.

Democratic Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade’s move last August to disqualify the 10 lawmakers from the ballot under Measure 113, a measure passed in 2022, is now being endorsed by the court. This measure, amending the state constitution to bar lawmakers from seeking re-election with more than 10 unexcused absences, is being vehemently opposed by Republicans who view it as an infringement on their democratic rights.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp expressed not just disagreement but deep dismay over the court’s decision and its potential chilling effect on dissent. Senator Suzanne Weber, not surprised by the outcome, criticized a court-appointed solely by Democratic Governors Kate Brown and Tina Kotek for prioritizing political motives over constitutional principles. Senator Daniel Bonham condemned the court for giving precedence to vague voter intent over the clear language of the Oregon Constitution.

The court’s decision upholding Griffin-Valade’s interpretation of Measure 113 and her directive to disqualify lawmakers based on her stance is seen as an example of judicial overreach. The legal wrangling over grammar and syntax underscores the blatant politicization of the issue.

By siding with the state’s argument that voters intended to disqualify legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences from seeking re-election after their current term, the court has raised serious concerns about its role as an unbiased arbiter. Critics argue that the court has chosen to prioritize a subjective interpretation of voter intent over a strict adherence to the law, setting a worrisome precedent that threatens the integrity of the democratic process.

As Oregon voters approved Measure 113 by a wide margin, it is clear that conservative values resonate with a significant portion of the population. The court’s decision, however, highlights the need for a fair and impartial judiciary that respects constitutional principles rather than succumbing to partisan pressures.