Jeff Johnson - OneNewsNow - 8/20/2008
The Oregon Constitution says voters have the final say over any laws passed by the state legislature. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, says they don't.
After Oregon voters passed a marriage protection amendment declaring marriage to be only the union of one man and one woman, liberal lawmakers tried to sidestep the amendment by passing a "domestic partnership" law. As Austin R. Nimocks -- senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund -- explains, lawmakers are not supposed to have the final say in Oregon. "The citizens of Oregon reserve to themselves in their constitution the right to have the final say on any legislation...," notes Nimocks.
The attorney says when the Oregon legislature passed the domestic partnership law, citizens petitioned for a vote to determine whether the law would remain. But state officials refused to certify the referendum petitions -- a step Nimocks describes as "a dangerous precedent for the future of the democratic process in America."
"Right now, we're still considering our options on what to do," says Nimocks. "It's quite clear that the citizens of Oregon still want to have their say on this important law."
Both the U.S. District Court and the Ninth Circuit ruled that Oregon voters have no legal right to have their valid signatures counted in a referendum petition drive. Nimocks calls those court decisions a "tragedy for democracy."
"In America, every citizen's vote should count," the attorney says in a press release. "The court has tossed aside one of the most important rights we have as Americans. The people didn't thwart this effort; government bureaucracy did."