Justia Oregon Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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Petitioner Julie Parrish challenged the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 13 (2020) (IP 13). Intervenor Uherbelau intervened generally in support of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title. If adopted, IP 13 would amend Article IX of the Oregon Constitution to add a new section, section 16. Subsection 16(1) would require the State Treasurer to “calculate the unfunded actuarial liability of any public employee retirement program or system as of December 31, 2022.” The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title for substantial compliance with ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Supreme Court concluded the ballot title for IP 13 did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2) in several respects, and therefore referred it to the Attorney General for modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Supreme Court considered three separate petitions that challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s ballot title for Initiative Petition 5 (2020). IP 5 would repeal and replace a provision in the Oregon Constitution, Article IV, section 6, that addressed reapportionment of the state’s legislative districts, after each decennial census, the take into account changes in the changes in the distribution of the state’s population. The Supreme Court determined the ballot title did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2), and referred the ballot title back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Fletchall v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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In consolidated cases, petitioners sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition (IP) 43 (2018), contending that various aspects did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). IP 43 proposed a statutory enactment that, with exceptions including a limited registration scheme, would prohibit the unlawful possession or transfer of an “assault weapon” or a “large capacity magazine,” as those terms are defined in the proposed measure. After defining the weapons and magazines within its scope, IP 43 created a new crime, “unlawful possession or transfer of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine,” for any person who “manufactures, imports, possesses, purchases, sells or transfers any assault weapon or large capacity magazine,” with exceptions. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the ballot title for IP 43 back to the Attorney General for modification of the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. View "Beyer v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (2018) (IP 33). If adopted, IP 33 would require that “government employee unions” annually report certain information to the Secretary of State, primarily how dues would be spent on union administration. Chief petitioners Schworak and Mitchell challenged the summary, while petitioners Lutz and Schwartz challenged all parts of the certified ballot title. After reviewing the petitioners’ arguments, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the proposed caption, the “no” result statement, and the summary did not substantially comply and must be modified. The “yes” result statement did substantially comply and did not require modification. View "Lutzv. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 28 (IP 28). IP 28, if adopted, would add an exception to the constitutional protections recognized in Vannatta v. Keisling, 931 P2d 770 (1997). Petitioners challenged the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. Finding revisions warranted for all elements to the ballot title, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the matter back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 28 (IP 28). IP 28, if adopted, would add an exception to the constitutional protections recognized in Vannatta v. Keisling, 931 P2d 770 (1997). Petitioners challenged the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. Finding revisions warranted for all elements to the ballot title, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the matter back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Supreme Court dismissed this ballot title challenge without addressing the merits. The Court determined it did not have authority to consider a ballot title challenge if the underlying initiative measure had not satisfied all the statutory prerequisites for obtaining a ballot title in the first place. View "Unger v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 19 (2018) (IP 19), arguing that the ballot title caption did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2)(a). If adopted by voters, IP 19 would prohibit a person from serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly for more than eight years in any period of 12 years. Subject to certain exceptions, IP 19 specifically provided that the measure would apply “retroactively to limit service by any person who is a Representative or Senator upon the effective date of this Act, so that current or prior membership is included in the calculation of years of service.” Petitioner contends that that caption does not comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a); although petitioner acknowledged that the caption informed voters of one major effect of IP 19 (its prohibition on years of service) petitioner contended that it failed to inform voters of another major effect, that the measure applies retroactively, with exceptions. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that the caption could have been more explicit: the actual impact of the measure on the legislature’s composition was a major effect that must be described in the ballot title’s caption. The Court referred the ballot back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Swanson v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the ballot title prepared for Referendum Petition (RP) 301 (2018). Among other things, that bill created a new Health System Fund, which would pay the cost of administering a new Oregon Reinsurance Program, provide additional funding for medical assistance and health services to low-income individuals and families under ORS chapter 414, and make other payments. The bill then imposed temporary, two-year assessments on insurance premiums or premium equivalents received by insurers (section 5(2)), managed care organizations (section 9(2)), and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (section 3(2)), that would be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the fund. Petitioners contended the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complied with those requirements. The Court agreed with some of petitioners’ contentions, but disagreed with others, concluding that each part of the ballot title required modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law