On Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a decision by the state’s chief election official to ban 10 Republican state senators from the ballot this fall for walking out of the legislature to protest bills on abortion, guns, and transgenderism.
“Last year’s boycott lasted six weeks — the longest in state history — and paralyzed the legislative session, stalling hundreds of bills,” the Associated Press reported. If enough lawmakers walk out, they can deny the quorum required to legally pass legislation. Through their walkout, Oregon Republicans extracted concessions from Democrats on bills related to firearm transfers and medical procedures for abortion and transgender-identified people.
Voters approved ballot Measure 113 in 2022, which amended the state constitution to boot lawmakers from the ballot for more than 10 unexcused floor absences. Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 113 after Republican walkouts in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
“We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said GOP Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, according to the AP. “But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent.”
Democrat lawmakers have also deployed walkouts to block legislation in Texas, Wisconsin, and Indiana. In 2021, Texas House Democrats staged a weeks-long walkout to prevent the passage of a Republican-sponsored election bill. Lawmakers made national headlines for launching the walkout by fleeing the state to Washington D.C., where they met with Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrats in Wisconsin and Indiana also staged legislative walkouts to delay progress on union-busting right-to-work bills.
In the last few months, Democrat U.S. House Rep. Jamal Bowman also received a slap on the wrist for pulling a fire alarm amid Democrats’ attempts to delay a vote on unfunded federal spending.
Stripping Oregon Republicans from ballot access marks the latest episode in a decades-long saga to eradicate the state’s political minority. Conservatives in Oregon have become so disillusioned by the leftist state government that activists are petitioning to redraw the state’s rural eastern counties into Idaho.
Just last year, Oregon Democrats rubber-stamped aggressive laws restricting guns and water use while expanding abortion and transgender interventions. Last year, lawmakers in the Idaho House of Representatives formally approved talks to annex disenchanted neighboring counties from Oregon.
Ballot bans have quickly become Democrats’ central campaign strategy, with former President Donald Trump disqualified as a candidate in Colorado and Maine. Challenges to Trump appearing on ballots have been filed in at least 35 states and remain unresolved in 16. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an appeal of Colorado’s court-ordered Trump removal next week.
Democrats are also working to keep Robert F. Kennedy Jr. off primary and state ballots, fearing his effect on Joe Biden’s re-election chances.