9th Circuit confirms power to deny quorum

The Republican plaintiffs lost their appeal in Linthicum v Wagner, a result that should come as no surprise to Catalyst readers, because I already wrote about how this case tries to get the First Amendment to do something that it does not: protect the right of expression when exercising the power of government office. Don’t expect a different result from the Supreme Court.

Let’s not let that detract from what the Ninth Circuit has confirmed. Oregon’s minority party possesses real power in that quorum.

That power simply has the consequence of behaving like a term limit. So be it. Oregon Republicans should be using this power to negotiate better legislative outcomes every session. If that means that a new batch of Senators is needed to accomplish that, then let’s just give up the notion that it’s better to hold legislative office for a long time.

Also, the penalty is not automatic. The decision to penalize the minority party for walking out is also a power that the majority party has. It’s discretionary, which means it too can be negotiated. Getting the Democrats to agree not to enforce a penalty can be a concession that is required to end the next walkout.

Don’t let the mere slap on the wrist of not being allowed to run for reelection prevent the use of this important consensus-forcing provision in our state constitution. It’s not like Republican members of the Oregon legislature face a great career in elective office anyway. The pay is lousy, as it should be, and there is little to no chance of moving on to state-wide office. So let’s just rotate these legislative seats among skeptics of extreme progressive policy to keep the lawmaking in the Beaver State moderate. That is a power the Ninth Circuit has confirmed.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.