July 23, 2020

Norman Turrill, Chair, People Not Politicians, (503) 386-7996
Kathay Feng, Common Cause, (310) 880-6668

Ninth Circuit Denies Motion to Keep Redistricting Reform off the 2020 Ballot

SALEM—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today declined to halt implementation of a Federal District Court decision, in People Not Politicians Oregon v. Clarno, giving redistricting reform advocates more time to gather signatures with a lower signature threshold to place Initiative Petition 57 (IP 57) on Oregon’s 2020 November ballot.

“We are thrilled that our people-powered campaign to make redistricting in Oregon fair and transparent has scored another victory in court,” said Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon. “People Not Politicians engaged in an extraordinarily energetic and creative effort to gather signatures safely during a pandemic. We hope the court ultimately lets the public decide whether everyday Oregonians—not politicians—should draw our legislative and congressional districts.”

“We know this is the right thing to do, both in Oregon and nationally. The Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission initiative is well written, the commissioner selection process is meticulously careful and fair, and Oregon’s history shows that this faulty system needs our voters’ help,” said Rebecca Gladstone, President, the League of Women Voters of Oregon.

On July 10, 2020, Judge Michael J. McShane issued a preliminary order stating that plaintiffs are likely to prevail in their claim that the Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s strict enforcement of the signature-gathering requirements during the ongoing pandemic unconstitutionally burdened the rights of the People Not Politicians campaign. Judge McShane ordered Secretary Clarno to choose between placing IP 57 on the ballot based on the approximately 64,000 signatures already collected or extending the deadline to August 17, 2020 and lowering the threshold to 58,789 verified signatures. Secretary Clarno chose the deadline extension and lower threshold. Despite the Secretary’s declaration that her office would not appeal the ruling, Oregon’s Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit requesting a stay of the District Court decision while the Ninth Circuit considers the case on its merits.

The Ninth Circuit denied Oregon’s DOJ motion today.

“Our campaign will gather signatures up to the last possible moment to make sure all Oregonians have an opportunity to bring redistricting reform to Oregon this November,” said Norman Turrill, Chief Petitioner for People Not Politicians Oregon. “We know voters understand the danger of gerrymandering and the clear conflict of interest in legislators drawing their own voting maps. We are confident that if given the chance, they will vote to change this broken system.”

IP 57, filed in November 2019, would create the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission and put redistricting in the hands of voters, not our politicians. The commission would consist of 12 Oregonians who apply to be selected from qualified applicants – four from Oregon’s largest political party, four from the second largest political party, and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Major donors to political candidates or parties would not be eligible. Neither would elected officials, political party officials or their family members. Commissioners would be selected to represent the broad diversity of Oregonians.

The initiative campaign coalition is being led by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Common Cause Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, OSPIRG, Oregon’s Progressive Party, the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, and tens of thousands of Oregonians who support the effort to remove conflicts of interest from drawing voting lines.

Steve Elzinga of Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie and Hoyt represented People Not Politicians in the District Court and aided in the Ninth Circuit proceedings. Adam Lauridsen, David J. Rosen, Jay Rapaport, and Tara M. Rangchi of Keker, Van Nest and Peters also helped lead the legal team. Common Cause attorneys Dan Vicuna, Suzanne Almeida, Kathay Feng, and law clerks Alton Wang and Michael Guggenheim contributed to the briefs.

Learn more and sign the petition:

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