(The Center Square) – The Oregon Court of Appeals recently asked the state’s highest court to determine if Republican state senators who conducted a lengthy walkout this year can seek re-election.
The senators want to challenge a state law approved by voters in 2022 that prevents people from being re-elected if they have at least 10 unexcused absences. Voters approved the measure in response to GOP walkouts in the state legislature in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Several Oregon state senators who violated the law have filed to run for re-election despite an announcement from Secretary of State Lavonne Griffin-Valade on August 8 that said they cannot run again.
“My decision honors the voters’ intent by enforcing the measure the way it was commonly understood when Oregonians added it to our state constitution,” Griffin-Valade said, according to The Associated Press.
The senators sued Griffin-Valade in the Oregon Court of Appeals because they wanted the court to force state officials to let them seek re-election. Along with the Oregon Department of Justice attorneys, the lawmakers asked the appeals court to send the matter directly to the state Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court has 20 days to grant or deny the lower court’s request but can give itself a 10-day extension.
Nine Oregon Republicans and an independent had over 10 unexcused absences this year as they prevented a quorum for six weeks in an attempt to block abortion, transgender and gun control bills. To end the walkout, Democrats agreed to soften language in their respective bills.
Six of the state senators who walked out are up for re-election next year; five of the six may attempt to seek re-election.
The lawmakers argue that the law does not apply to the term beginning in 2025. The amendment says a lawmaker cannot run “for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.” However, since the election is in November and the term ends the following January, they argue the penalty does not immediately take effect.
Ben Morris, the secretary of state’s spokesman, told The Associated Press that both sides want the court “to quickly rule on Measure 113 and settle this matter.”