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Oregon Senate Republicans Fume Over Reelection Ban

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Some of the Oregon Republican state senators hit by the state Supreme Court’s decision to ban them from running for reelection raged against the decision, slamming the court as “Democrat-stacked.”

The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that 10 Republican state senators cannot run for reelection after refusing to attend Senate sessions for about six weeks last year to stall Democratic-backed legislation.

The state based its decision on a 2022 referendum that bans lawmakers from running for reelection after 10 unexcused absences. In doing so, it rejected arguments from five Republican senators that Measure 113 should allow them to run for one more term.

The decision immediately affects only four of the 10 senators. Two of them, Bill Hansell and Lynn Findley, had already planned to retire. Four others—Daniel Bonham, Cedric Hayden, Kim Thatcher and Suzanne Weber—were elected to four-year terms in 2022 and will serve until January 2027.

Voters cast their ballots at official ballot boxes on November 8, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon Supreme Court banned 10 Republican state senators from running for reelection.

Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images
The other four are Tim Knopp, Brian Boquist, Dennis Linthicum and Art Robinson, all of whom tried to file for reelection last year but were waiting for the court’s decision.

The 10 ran the longest boycott in Oregon history and the second-longest in the U.S., preventing lawmakers from voting and threatening hundreds of bills, including the approval of the state budget for the following two years.

Newsweek contacted the Oregon Republican Party for comment by email on Friday.

The sabotage stemmed from the senators’ opposition to a bill on the protection for abortion and transgender care that they considered too extreme. It would have allowed doctors to provide abortions regardless of a patient’s age, without needing to notify the parents, even if the patient was a minor.

The 10 Republicans returned to the Senate’s sessions in mid-June 2023 after obtaining new agreements on measures covering abortion, transgender care and gun rights. Under the compromise, physicians don’t have to notify the parents of a minor of an abortion procedure if it’s not in their best interest, as long as another provider agrees.

The GOP senators argued against the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision. In a statement sent to the Associated Press, Knopp, the chamber’s Republican minority leader who described the court as “Democrat-stacked,” said: “We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling. But more importantly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent.”

Bonham shared an article by the Oregon Capital Chronicle on X, formerly Twitter, writing that a “better headline” for it would be: “For the first time ever, the words you read in the Oregon constitution don’t actually mean what they say.”

In a statement quoted by the Chronicle, Weber said: “I’m disappointed but can’t say I’m surprised that a court of judges appointed solely by Governor Brown and Governor Kotek would rule in favor of political rhetoric rather than their own precedent. The only winners in this case are Democrat politicians and their union backers.”

Uncommon KnowledgeNewsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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