People Not Politicians File Brief Opposing Oregon Attorney General’s Motion to Keep Redistricting Reform off the 2020 Ballot

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  • Kathay Feng National Redistricting Director, Common Cause c: (310) 880-6668

Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause (310) 880-6668

People Not Politicians File Brief Opposing Oregon Attorney General’s Motion to Keep Redistricting Reform off the 2020 Ballot

SALEM, Ore. — August 8, 2020. The People Not Politicians Oregon (PNP) coalition filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last night opposing the Oregon Attorney General’s efforts to keep redistricting reform off the 2020 ballot. Oregon’s Attorney General has simultaneously filed a motion in the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a District Court decision granting the coalition more time to collect signatures and a more reasonable signature threshold. The coalition filed a brief opposing the U.S. Supreme Court motion on August 4. 

PNP argues in its Ninth Circuit filing that the Oregon Secretary of State—the party responsible for Oregon’s initiative process—did not seek to appeal PNP’s win in the District Court, and thus the Attorney General does not have standing to pursue an appeal the Secretary of State does not support. The coalition also argues that unreasonable restrictions on the ability of citizens to place initiatives on the ballot clearly burden First Amendment freedoms.

“This campaign has fought tooth and nail to give Oregonians a voice in their own representation and to ensure that every vote counts,” said Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon. “We launched a historic effort to safely gather signatures during a pandemic, won in the trial court to give voters a chance to pass reform, and are now defending our win in the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. PNP, Common Cause Oregon, and our allies will continue doing everything in our power to put this vital democracy reform on the ballot in November.”

“The law is clear and unambiguous: Oregon’s rigid enforcement of ballot initiative requirements with no consideration for the impact of an unprecedented global pandemic violates our First Amendment rights to petition our government,” said Norman Turrill, chief petitioner for People Not Politicians Oregon. “We are committed to putting Oregonians, not public officials with a conflict of interest at the center of the next redistricting process. And we won’t stop fighting in court until Oregonians have the chance to vote on this in November.”

On July 30, the Oregon’s Secretary of State determined that PNP submitted enough valid signatures to meet the threshold set by Federal District Court Judge McShane in his July 10 order. PNP is forging ahead with a robust public education and advocacy campaign.

Initiative Petition 57, filed in November 2019, would strip legislators of the ability to draw their own districts and congressional maps by creating the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission. This commission would consist of 12 Oregonians who apply to be selected from qualified applicants – four from Oregon’s largest political party, four from the second largest political party, and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Commissioners would be selected to reflect the broad diversity of Oregonians.  

The initiative campaign coalition is being led by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Common Cause Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, OSPIRG, Oregon’s Progressive Party, the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, and tens of thousands of Oregonians who support the effort to remove politicians’ conflicts of interest from drawing their own voting lines.

Adam Lauridsen, David J. Rosen, Jay Rapaport, and Tara M. Rangchi of Keker, Van Nest and Peters lead the legal team in the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court. Common Cause attorneys Dan Vicuna, Suzanne Almeida, Kathay Feng, law clerks Alton Wang and Michael Guggenheim, and separately Steve Elzinga of Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie and Hoyt contributed.

Learn more about IP 57, the campaign’s effort, and sign the petition at:

To read the Ninth Circuit Court brief, click here.

To read the SCOTUS filing, click here.

To read the District Court’ preliminary order ruling, click here.