Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan puts a halt to Oregon redistricting ballot measure

Published by OPB.ORG

Summary generated on August 11, 2020

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has hit the brakes on an effort to dramatically alter how Oregon draws its legislative and congressional districts.

    In a ruling Tuesday, Kagan granted an emergency stay that will halt, for now, a push by government watchdog groups and industry players to land a measure on the November ballot placing authority for those districts in the hands of a nonpartisan commission.

    The stay, requested by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum last month, is the latest step in a dramatic legal saga over the ballot campaign, known as "People Not Politicians." In July, the coalition successfully argued that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it faced an undue burden in collecting enough signatures to land its measure on the November ballot.

    He ordered Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno to either place the measure on the ballot or change the rules so that backers have a much lower signature threshold to qualify for the ballot.

    Rosenblum appealed the ruling, though Clarno hadn't asked her to, and when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to issue an emergency stay on the order, Rosenblum took her case to Kagan.

    "The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is granted," the order says.

    While the matter of drawing district lines may seem arcane, it could have a big impact on political power in Oregon.

    Currently, the Oregon Legislature redraws congressional and legislative district lines to account for population changes.

    Following the 2020 Census, Democrats in the Legislature and governor's office are poised to have sole control over those changes for the first time in modern Oregon history.

    The two chief sponsors represent the Oregon League of Women Voters and the Oregon Farm Bureau.