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May-21-2010 16:23printcomments

Unelected Dictators vs. Democracy: The Subversion of Oregon's Constitution and Electoral Process by Federal Judges

In our so called democracy, two Federal judges hold more sway over the laws of our State than the majority of the voting population.

Aerial view of the Oregon capitol by Tim King Salem-News.com
Aerial view of the Oregon capitol by Tim King Salem-News.com

(EUGENE, Ore.) - In 1994 Oregon Voters passed Ballot Measure 6, a constitutional amendment which provided that candidates for office could only use donations from residents within the district they were running to represent.

The Oregon Constitution, Article II Section 22 provides that “For purposes of campaigning for an elected public office, a candidate may use or direct only contributions which originate from individuals who at the time of their donation were residents of the electoral district of the public office sought by the candidate.”

As a penalty for failure to comply, the Oregon Constitution provides that “Where more than ten percent (10%) of a candidate’s total campaign funding is in violation of Section (1), and the candidate is subsequently elected, the elected official shall forfeit the office and shall not hold a subsequent elected public office for a period equal to twice the tenure of the office sought.”

Under the Oregon Constitution, as amended by initiative petition, virtually every office holder representing the State of Oregon is disqualified from office and from running for office in future elections for a term of twice the tenure of their current office.

Why is it then that the elected representatives of this State see fit to mock the will of the Voters?

In my recent article, Out-of-State Money and Oregon's Ongoing Political Disaster, I pointed out that the U.S. Senators from Oregon both get the majority of their funding from out-of-State donors. A situation with grave implications for the integrity of our State’s representation in Congress.

This situation exists, in defiance of the will of the Citizens of Oregon, because Measure 6 was struck down in Vannatta v. Keisling, by two out of three Federal judges hearing the case. (see: openjurist.org/151/f3d/1215)

In our so called democracy, two Federal judges hold more sway over the laws of our State than the majority of the voting population.

In that opinion, the two party majority stated: “We reject Judge Brunetti's argument in dissent … that Measure 6 is valid because it prevents a distortion of the republican form of government in the State of Oregon. It could be argued that the initiative process itself distorts the republican form of government.”

Yes, it “could” be argued that the initiative process distorts the republican form of government. Yet clearly that argument has been rejected before, given that the initiative process has continually been upheld as Constitutional.

It is with this kind of stunningly deceitful illogic that unelected dictators override the will of the Voters, to the clear detriment of our Constitution and State.

In Vannatta, Judge Brunetti argued that Oregon did have a right to prevent candidates from using funds provided by individuals outside their districts in order to campaign for election.

Judge Brunetti asserted his opinion on the following grounds:

“In several cases the Supreme Court has emphasized the right of states and cities to reserve their political processes and resources for their own residents.”

“In other contexts the Supreme Court has suggested, sometimes strongly, that states have a strong interest in ensuring that elected officials represent those who elect them.”

“the Court upheld a statute which prohibited all corporations, not just out-of-district, from spending money from their general funds on elections.”

“If states have flexibility in determining who is a resident for voting purposes and in taking steps to make sure non-residents do not have access to some state services, it follows that states also have a strong interest in making sure that elections are decided by those who vote.”

“Thus the Supreme Court's traditional emphasis of states' interest in managing elections, assuring that only residents vote, and safeguarding resources for bona fide residents supports Measure 6 because appellants have presented considerable evidence that campaign financing strongly influences Oregon elections.”

“States cannot pick and choose among voices in an effort to create an even playing field but they may take steps to ensure the integrity of political structures and processes. While Measure 6 affects protected speech, it more closely resembles the latter category of state actions and therefore survives rigorous scrutiny under the First Amendment.”

In deciding this case, the Federal Judges followed standard judicial procedure by asking the Oregon Supreme Court to issue an opinion on whether or not Measure 6 was constitutional under the Oregon Constitution. The Oregon Supreme Court declined to issue an opinion.

In this case, the Citizens of Oregon were represented by Secretary of State Phil Keisling and Attorney General Ted Kulongoski. Both would have been disqualified from office under Measure 6.

Phil Keisling is currently Chairman of the Board for the Advocacy Committee of the Software Association of Oregon. The "Software Association of Oregon." is funded primarily by out-of-State corporations. He gets paid to represent out-of-State corporations in Oregon's political process. (see: sao.org/?page=sponsors)

Phil Keisling’s current job probably would not exist if Measure 6 had been upheld.

If anybody would like to get back to me on whether or not Keisling and Kulongoski appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, I would be interested to know.


Salem-News.com Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.

Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.

You can write to Ersun at: warncke@comcast.net




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Douglas Benson May 22, 2010 8:32 am (Pacific time)

Same old shell game ,we are too stupid to know whats good for us so we have a bunch of suits to tell us what is . Pick and choose bull from our high courts is the biggest threat to liberty we face . These folks are supposed to gaurd our freedoms ,the last line of defence against unconstitutional laws. The voice of the people is drowned out by compelling goverment intrest ,how is that freedom?

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