Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Disqualification of Republican Senators from Running for Re-Election

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Supreme Court has announced that 10 Republican state senators who participated in an extended walkout last year, resulting in a six-week boycott, will not be eligible for re-election under a voter-approved measure. The walkout was staged to stall bills related to abortion, transgender health care, and gun rights, leading to a legislative session paralysis.

The court’s decision upholds the secretary of state’s disqualification of the senators from the ballot, as outlined in the measure voted by Oregonians in 2022. This measure amended the state constitution to prevent lawmakers from seeking re-election if they have more than 10 unexcused absences.

Sens. Tim Knopp, Daniel Bonham, Suzanne Weber, Dennis Linthicum, and Lynn Findley, among the 10 GOP senators with excessive absences, challenged the secretary of state’s decision through a lawsuit. The senators argued over the interpretation of the language added to the state constitution after Measure 113 was approved by voters, focusing on the timing of the penalty’s implementation.

Their lawsuit was filed against Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, who deemed the boycotting senators disqualified from seeking re-election in August. All parties involved in the lawsuit sought clarity on the issue before the March 2024 filing deadline for candidates who want to run in this year’s election.

The walkout last year resulted in a legislative paralysis that only ended after Republicans forced concessions from Democrats on several significant bills, including those related to expanding access to abortion and transgender health care, as well as measures regarding the manufacture and transfer of undetectable firearms, commonly referred to as ghost guns.

Measure 113, which received widespread voter approval, was a response to previous Republican walkouts in the Legislature in 2019, 2020, and 2021. This measure aims to prevent future boycotts that have the potential to hinder the legislative process and the consideration of essential bills that impact the citizens of Oregon.