Oregon SC : State legislators skipping service, may not run in 2024

Discussion in 'Political Science' started by btthegreat, Feb 2, 2024.

  1. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

    May 30, 2010
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    "Last year, 10 Republican state senators in Oregon walked out of the Legislature for six weeks to obstruct Democratic bills promoting reproductive rights, transgender equality, and gun safety. The GOP senators’ boycott paralyzed the chamber, stalling hundreds of bills by preventing lawmakers from conducting any work. Their hardball tactic succeeded in the short term, forcing Democrats to water down their signature measures. On Thursday, however, it backfired badly: The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously prohibited all 10 senators from running for reelection, enforcing a constitutional provision designed to punish this kind of petulant legislative obstruction."

    The constitutional provision was one of the voters creation, by virtue of statewide petition and initiative in response to a previous walkout which passed 68% to 32% in Nov. 2022. I remember at the time voting 'yes' and hoping that it was very carefully written to avoid successful challenges. Of course it wasn't because these initiatives rarely are. Historically,they are comparatively sloppily written. Sure enough The GOP found their legal loophole sitting in the ambiguity of interpretation of the language describing the specific term from which they were banned from running. Was it the 2024, or 2028 if they walked out of the 2022 session? The Oregon Supreme Court basically looked at the likely legislative intent of the literal 'legislators' ie the voters to figure out what their understanding was. It was informed by media representations, by the Oregon voters pamplet descriptions, and by the desciptions on ballot itself were there was no ambiguity. Nobody pointed out any such 'ambiguity' until the GOP Senators suing pointed found one years later.

    I like this penalty and I like what it attempts to do. We cannot have the kind of chaos and obstructionist tactics these walk-outs produce in every legislative body that requires a quorum from county commissions, to city councils, to library and school boards. It used to be that these walk-outs were symbolic one day efforts to protest parlamentary chicanery by legislative majorities or committee chairs, a dramatic statement of outrage by the minority but they were not really intended to shut down all legislation for entire sessions until the minority extort concessions on the legislative agenda. There needs to be a penalty, for elections to have the consequences that we expect them to have, when we vote a new party into control.

    Note the link tries to draw some lessons with efforts to keep Trump off state ballots now. This OP was put in this subforum to keep the focus on state and local politics not national politics and a federal election. I want to focus on quorums, and on walk outs/boycotts and on possible solutions to their disruptive impact on legislative and administrative committee work. It you want to discuss Donald Trump and whether he should be on ballots, please make your own thread and don't hijack this one.

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