Oregon Attorney General Seeks To Keep Gerrymandering Limits Off November Ballot

By Lauren Dake (OPB)
July 15, 2020 9:30 p.m.

The Oregon attorney general is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to block a lower court's order that paves the way for an anti-gerrymandering measure to appear on the November ballot.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled the stay-at-home order Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued to stem the spike of COVID-19 made it impossible for backers of an initiative petition focused on redistricting to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.


What’s been dubbed the

The “People, Not Politicians” redistricting measure

was sponsored by the Oregon League of Women Voters and several other government watchdog groups. It would take redistricting out of the hands of the state Legislature and let an independent non-partisan commission oversee the drawing of legislative and congressional boundaries.


Related: Oregon Redistricting Measure May Go To Voters After Judge's Ruling

McShane, the judge, ruled the group's efforts to gather signatures were stymied by the pandemic. He said Secretary of State Bev Clarno could either place the redistricting measure on the November ballot or change the rules so they wouldn't have to gather as many signatures.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to step in and prevent the initiative from being placed on the ballot.

“Whether a federal judge can rewrite the state constitution's procedures for constitutional amendments is a question that goes to the heart of the state’s power to create its own laws,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “Any final decision made in this case could have long reaching impacts for the state and on future ballot initiatives.”

Related: In Face Of Pandemic, Opponents Of Partisan Redistricting In Oregon Pursue New Ballot Initiative Strategy

Initiative Petition 57 would change the way legislative and congressional district lines are drawn by moving the decision-making power out of the Legislature and shifting it to a new 12-member commission.

Redistricting often sparks partisan fights, but for the first time in modern Oregon political history Democrats look likely to have full control over drawing the political boundary lines as they control both legislative branches and the executive branch.