What Gov. Kitzhaber said about Ballot Title tinkering

The Oregonian’s Dave Reinhard wrote a masterful article exposing the ballot title deception on Measure 49 (MUST READ HERE). Key to his article is the fact that the politicians passed a referral bill to gut Measure 37 property rights, and did so without allowing a judicial review of the ballot title. Years ago, Governor Kitzhaber made the same complaint when the Republicans tried to do the same awful act for a different ballot referral. Here is the full text of Kitzhaber’s complaint referenced in Reinhard’s article:

By limiting access to the courts, this bill poses a dangerous threat to the right of Oregonians to freely and fully participate in the electoral process. I cannot allow this important right to be eroded.

SB 1120 bill would prohibit judicial review of the ballot title that will accompany SJR 41 which places before Oregon voters a proposed constitutional amendment relating to obscenity. This means that Oregonians will completely forgo their rights to appeal this issue to the highest court in the land””a right we hold dear.

Regardless of the merits of SJR41, I think it is important to preserve the right of Oregonians who may disagree with the Legislature to challenge the proposed ballot title in court. Oregon voters deserve a fair and objective description of the effects of proposed ballot measures. Anything less undermines our rights as citizens. The proper place to make this determination is in a court of law, removed from the influences of the political process.

I’m aware that the Legislature has chosen to bypass this appeal process in the past. This rare exception was invoked only when the Legislature needed to get a quick answer from the voters. It is never appropriate to avoid the appeals procedure in an effort to thwart court scrutiny and bypass citizens who may have an alternate point of view on the objectivity of the proposed ballot title.

John A. Kitzhaber