This November, Oregon voters will have a chance to change the way Judges are elected to the Oregon Supreme Court. (Yes, we elect our Supreme Court Justices here.) Right now, OSC (Oregon Supreme Court) Justices are elected by the entire state. If Ballot Measure 24 (pdf link) passes, however, the seven judges on the OSG (and also the ten judges on the Oregon Court of Appeals) will be elected by districts determined by population.
In other words, if Measure 24 passes, Oregon will be divided into seven Supreme Court districts, each containing one-seventh of Oregon’s population; and each district will get to elect one Supreme Court Justice.
The idea is to let people in rural Oregon feel like they have representation on the OSC. (Oregon, in a much oversimplified nutshell, can be divided into “liberal Portland” and “conservative the rest of Oregon,” so Portland’s influence annoys the rest of the state). However, Randy at Ridenbaugh Press points out that Measure 24 might work to weaken, rather than expand, the influence of rural Oregonians:
The up-side to the initiative, from the rural interest viewpoint, is that they’d be guaranteed a presence on the court. The downside is the limitation of that presence. On even the 10-member Court of Appeals, all of Oregon east of the Cascades would get just about . . . one seat. And that’s as much as they’d ever be able to get; under the present plan, you could in theory elect judge after judge from the big wide open. They’d get less than that on the Supreme Court. Meantime, under the new plan, the Portland metro area’s domination of the courts would be locked in.
It seems to me that this plan could make it far easier to elect at least a couple of progressive Judges, as well – it’s a lot easier for a progressive to get elected if they only have to get a majority of Portland voters, rather than a majority of Oregon voters.
So if you want Eastern Oregon to have guaranteed representation on Oregon’s highest Court, vote for Measure 24. And if you want to guarantee that the Court will always be dominated by Portlanders… vote for Measure 24.
Curtsy: Blue Oregon.