In Short

Oregon Supreme Court defers to U.S. Supreme Court in Trump ballot access case

By: - January 12, 2024 10:26 am
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Clinton Middle School on Jan. 6, 2024 in Clinton, Iowa.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Clinton Middle School on Jan. 6, 2024 in Clinton, Iowa. Iowa Republicans will be the first to select their party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential race when they go to caucuses on Jan. 15, 2024. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Oregon Supreme Court will defer to the U.S. Supreme Court and won’t hear a court case challenging former President Donald Trump’s ability to appear on Oregon ballots.

A group of Oregon voters asked the state court in December to order Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade to keep Trump off the primary and general election ballots as part of a nationwide campaign. Critics in Oregon and elsewhere allege that he is ineligible for federal office because the 14th Amendment bars anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection” after previously swearing to uphold the U.S. Constitution. 

The Colorado Supreme Court ordered his removal from Colorado ballots in a similar case, and the U.S. Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on Trump’s appeal over the Colorado decision on Feb. 8. 

“A decision by the United States Supreme Court regarding the Fourteenth Amendment issue may resolve one or more contentions that relators make in this proceeding,” the Oregon Supreme Court’s order said. 

However, the state court left open the possibility that it would hear a new case filed by Oregon voters to resolve any issues that remain after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. 

Free Speech for People, the national advocacy group that led the Oregon lawsuit, called the decision “disappointing” in a statement. 

“Waiting until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its order only compresses the time that the Oregon Supreme Court may have to resolve the issues that may remain if the U.S. Supreme Court does not fully resolve all the issues in this case,” the group said. 

The group of five Oregon voters, which included at least one registered Republican, argued that Griffin-Valade had the responsibility to enforce the 14th Amendment. They noted that Griffin-Valade and past Oregon secretaries of state have blocked candidates who don’t meet qualifications for office, including Griffin-Valade’s recent decision to bar Oregon senators who had more than 10 absences from filing for reelection. That decision sparked an ongoing Supreme Court case.

Griffin-Valade and state attorneys maintained that she lacks the authority to judge whether presidential candidates are qualified because voters don’t actually pick a nominee during the primary – they direct delegates to a national convention how to vote. The Oregon Republican Party will select delegates at a convention a few days after the primary, though party rules require all delegates to support the winner of the state’s primary. 

Trump, who intervened in the case, denied that he engaged in insurrection. His attorneys also argued that state courts don’t have the authority to decide who is qualified to run for president and said the voters who sued lacked standing, or a right to sue, because they wouldn’t personally be harmed by him running for election. 

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway is the Capital Chronicle's deputy editor and lead political reporter. Before joining the Capital Chronicle in 2021, she was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix and reported on local and state government and politics in Iowa, Nebraska and Bend. An award-winning journalist, Julia also serves as president of the Oregon Legislative Correspondents Association, or Capitol press corps.

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