The weaponization of ballot access continues. On Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court declared that ten Republican state senators could not seek reelection.
Why? It has nothing to do with Trump. It’s because they staged a walkout for six weeks, preventing a quorum and effectively stalling legislation on abortion, transgender treatments, and gun control.
“The high court decided in favor of Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, who had disqualified the senators from running for office again after voters approved a measure in 2022 to amend the state constitution to ban lawmakers with more than 10 unexcused absences from running again,” reports Just The News. “The measure to prevent walkouts passed after GOP lawmakers staged other walkouts from the Legislature in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Five of the 10 Republican state senators, Tim Knopp, Daniel Bonham, Suzanne Weber, Dennis Linthicum and Lynn Findle, had filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state over the decision.”
“We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Knopp, the Senate minority leader, told the Associated Press. “But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent.”
Democratic Senate President Rob Wagner was, of course, happy with the decision.
“Today’s ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court means that legislators and the public now know how Measure 113 will be applied, and that is good for our state,” he said in a statement.
The Associated Press has more.
During oral arguments before the Oregon Supreme Court in December, attorneys for the senators and the state wrestled over the grammar and syntax of the language that was added to the state constitution after Measure 113 was approved by voters.
The amendment says a lawmaker is not allowed to run “for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”
The debate was over when that ineligibility kicks in: If a senator’s term ends in January 2025, they would typically seek reelection in November 2024. The “election after the member’s current term is completed” would not be until November 2028, the Republican senators argued, so they could run for reelection this year and then hold office for another term before becoming ineligible.
The court disagreed, saying that while the language of the amendment was ambiguous, the information provided to voters in the ballot title and explanatory statement made clear that the intent was to bar truant lawmakers from holding office in the next term.
“Those other materials expressly and uniformly informed voters that the amendment would apply to a legislator’s immediate next terms of office, indicating that the voters so understood and intended that meaning,” the justices wrote.
It’s clear that Democrats see the weaponization of ballot access as their latest and greatest strategy to preserve their own power and will continue to do so whenever they can.
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