From Senator Larry George office, 1-28-2008
Court says it is unconstitutional to test annual sessions;
allows Legislature to call special session to address unnamed issues
Salem, OR – Judge Paul Lipscomb rejected SCR 1 and ruled today that it is unconstitutional for the Legislature to hold an emergency special session for the purpose of testing annual sessions. The court recognized that Oregon’s Constitution limits the legislature to biennial sessions and the legislature cannot test annual sessions without a constitutional amendment.
“I am very happy with the Court’s ruling which confirms my concerns,” said Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood) who originally filed the lawsuit questioning the legality of the special session. “‘Test driving’ annual sessions is a direct assault on the Oregon Constitution and ignores the fact that Oregon voters have repeatedly rejected annual sessions. Clearly the Democratic leadership recognized the lawsuit was going to expose the unconstitutionality of SCR1 when they declared other unnamed emergencies after our lawsuit was filed. I look forward to the Oregon Supreme Court taking the next step by rejecting this last minute stunt when the case appears before them later this week.”
The Legislature fast-tracked SCR1 through the legislature on the first day of last year’s session. SCR1 declared, more than one year in advance, that the legislature’s need to test annual sessions without submitting a constitutional amendment to voters was an emergency that would require the legislature to meet in February of 2008. The ruling does allow the February session to continue based on a new legislative declaration of emergency — a claim that was made after the lawsuit was filed.
“It is becoming clear that within the Legislature there is a growing disrespect for the rule of law and the Oregon Constitution,” said Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood) who originally filed the lawsuit questioning the legality of the special session. “The laws of Oregon and the voters of Oregonians matter, whether the Legislature wants to recognize it or not.”
The case now goes before the Oregon Supreme Court for review later this week.
“I believe this lawsuit may encourage more legislators in both parties to speak up when we see the legislative leadership’s ongoing and blatant disregard for a fair process, the rule of law, the Oregon constitution, and the will of the Oregon voters,” concluded George.