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Oregon DOJ appeals ruling giving more time to redistricting petition

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SALEM Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of Justice on Wednesday asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of Monday's ruling by a federal judge that gives Initiative Petition 57 backers more time to gather and submit petition signatures.

IP 57 seeks to place an initiative on the November ballot that would amend the Oregon Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission, a substantial change from the way the redistricting process is currently established in the state Constitution. 

The appeal asks the court to order that petitioners for IP 57 be held to the standards that the Oregon Constitution requires for amendments.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that the signature requirement must be reduced to 39% of the constitutionally required number, and that the petitioners could have until August 17 to submit the reduced number of signatures. The constitutional deadline for submitting the required number of signatures was July 2.

According to the appeal filed Wednesday, “[The District Court] order requires the state to violate the provisions of the Oregon Constitution regarding constitutional amendments. And it will require the state and others to take immediate steps to comply, including by verifying signatures and preparing the material that will appear in the voter’s pamphlet. 

"Once the ballot design is finalized and ballots are printed and mailed, it will be too late to remove the measure from the ballot, even if the preliminary injunction is overturned.”

Following the ruling, Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno had announced late Tuesday that she would grant the IP 57 organization more time to gather signatures.

Statement from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum:

“The federal court ruling issued by US District Court Judge Michael McShane on Monday allows a proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution to be included on the November ballot, even though the measure’s proponents did not get even close to the number of voter signatures that the state constitution requires.

"Whether a federal judge can rewrite the state Constitution‘s procedures for constitutional amendments is a question that goes to the heart of the state’s power to create its own laws. Any final decision made in this case could have long-reaching impacts for the state and on future ballot initiatives.

“We are seeking clarity from the federal appellate court (the Ninth Circuit) on a critical, time-sensitive issue pertaining to state sovereignty. While Secretary Clarno did not ask us to appeal Judge McShane’s ruling, the Secretary deferred to our view that the overall interests of the state require us to file this appeal.”

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