The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that 10 Republican state senators who participated in a weeks-long walkout last summer aimed at delaying the passage of bills that would provide “gender-affirming care” to minors and provide abortion access to minors, are barred from seeking re-election this November.
Last year’s boycott ended up being the longest in state history after Republican lawmakers delayed the passage of the bills for roughly six weeks. Oregon law requires two-thirds of the state’s legislative body to be present in order for new measures to be voted on.
Thursday’s ruling upholds Democratic Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade’s decision to bar the lawmakers from seeking re-election under a measure aimed at stopping such boycotts. Measure 113, which was passed by voters in the blue state last year, amended the state constitution to bar lawmakers from the ballot if they have more than 10 unexcused absences.
The Oregon Senate Republican Caucus has rejected the ruling, stating that the “Democrat-stacked supreme court sides with Democrats and union cronies on Measure 113 despite plain language of Constitution.” The caucus highlighted that the ruling is ” “effectively ending the service of 10 Republican senators, who represent one-third of the Oregon Senate.”
Five lawmakers — Senators Tim Knopp, Daniel Bonham, Suzanne Weber, Dennis Linthicum and Lynn Findley — sued the Democrat secretary of state over the decision. All five lawmakers were among those who were expelled after exceeding 10 absences.
“We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling. But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent,” Senate Republican Leader Knopp said Thursday.
“Every legal mind I’ve heard from, regardless of political leanings, has affirmed that when there is only one interpretation for the plain language of the law, that is final,” added Bonham. “The language incorporated into the Oregon Constitution was clear and yet the Supreme Court ruled that voter intent, which cannot be determined by any metric, supersedes the Constitution. There is no justice in a political court.”
While leftists have celebrated the removal of Republican lawmakers in Oregon, a previous walkout staged by Democrats in Texas was met with widespread praise from Democrat leaders. In July 2021, Texas Democrats walked out of the legislative session and travelled to Washington D.C. in order to protest a bill that would have fortified the Lonestar State’s election process.
The lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who praised them for their efforts to protect “democracy.”