Clarno Under Fire From Oregon DOJ

On December 19, The Oregon Department of Justice filed a brief against Secretary of State Bev Clarno regarding her dismissal of three ballot measures earlier this year.   

In the brief, the DOJ criticizes Clarno’s rigid insistence that initiative petitions adhere to “one subject only” rule of the Oregon Constitution. If her decision is upheld, they argue,“a broad range of state laws would be called into question.”  

“Courts have upheld even complex diverse statutes,” the brief states, “and there is a longstanding presumption in favor of upholding a law against [legal] challenges.” Consequently, initiative petitions “must meet a low bar.”  

A day after, progressive group Our Oregon filed a brief of their own accusing Clarno, a republican, of partisanship, writing that her decision “creates the strong impression that she has abandoned her role as a neutral, impartial and nonpartisan arbiter of Oregon’s election laws.”   

“Even if this is mere incompetence,” they continue, “it is a cause for significant concern to the public and undermines the public’s faith in the integrity of those tasked with overseeing Oregon’s elections.” 

 Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum had previously refused to defend Clarno’s decision, stating in October that “There is no question that, under current law, the legislature could pass a measure such as this one and it would be in full compliance with the ‘single subject’ requirement. I do not believe there is any compelling reason to argue for a change in the current law.”  

By Brandon Urey