Oregon’s Roadmap for Protecting American Democracy

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the rise of violent extremists across the nation as they’ve gained traction in their pursuit to roll back many of the civil liberties that we hold dear. From a Supreme Court that is repealing our rights in rapid-fire fashion, to each compounding election weighing heavier and growing exponentially more consequential – it’s clear that American democracy as we know it is in danger.

In the face of a highly polarized and rapidly evolving political landscape, Oregon is paving a different path. 

In the final hours of the legislative session and to little media fanfare, the Oregon state legislature quietly rejected a national effort to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

Should other states follow Oregon’s steps, the nation could drastically alter its course for the better as we continue barreling towards a dangerous reality where radical agendas are the new norm. But how exactly did Oregon accomplish this?

Oregon passed – with a unanimous and bipartisan vote in the State Senate – two companion bills rescinding previous legislative efforts calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention, a chaotic process lacking any rules, oversight, or precedent that could rescind all of our established civil liberties. Specifically, HB 3625 rescinded all previous calls for a convention and HJM 3 directed the state to inform Congress of the rejection.

Enacting this process would mean constitutional turmoil for every basic freedom we cherish. 

An Article V Constitutional Convention is a rewrite of the U.S. Constitution that’s triggered when 34 state legislatures formally call for one. There are no rules as to who can attend, who writes the agenda, how the votes are cast, or whose voices get heard – or silenced – in the process. 

This poses the possibility for the U.S. Constitution to be entirely rewritten, with no way to control or curb a convention once it has begun, threatening our democracy as we know it. 

Oregon’s Republicans and Democrats saw this threat and came together to reject the idea that our freedoms are up for grabs. In our current embittered political climate, Oregon’s move is the first of its kind, with the state unanimously rejecting a convention in one chamber through bipartisan efforts.

Common Cause Oregon was a key player in the fight to pass this legislation, partnered with AFL-CIO and AFSCME. In the legislature, it was championed by House Majority Leader Julie Fahey and Minority Senate Leader Tim Knopp, who carried the bills on the Senate floor. This work is part of a greater national movement seeking to rescind calls for a convention in as many states as possible.  

Together, HB 3625 and HJM 3 will prove significant in protecting the U.S. Constitution, our democracy, and our freedoms by eliminating Oregon’s decades-old resolutions before they could be misused to advance radical agendas. This counters the extremist national movements that have been testing legal theories in court, attempting to take advantage of these old resolutions to enact a new Convention to further realize their agendas. 

Currently, the convention still has support in 28 states – dangerously close to the 34-state threshold, even with Oregon’s withdrawal. In recent years, states like Colorado, New Jersey, and Illinois have similarly reversed course and moved to protect our democracy, but it is not enough. 

More states must follow suit and formally rescind their Article V calls. Our futures depend on it. 

Our democracy itself hangs in the balance as we forge through uncharted territories, fighting against a groundswell of hateful ideologies with fewer rights than we’ve known in the last decade. 

In the continued fight for a fairer, more just world, The United States Constitution remains the last bastion of the righteous.  

We cannot let it crumble.