Oregon State Bar Bulletin — AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011

From ‘Department’ to ‘Branch’: Voters Will Decide Next Year

The legislature added to the list of ballot measures that will that the voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on in 2012.

HJR 44 would amend the state constitution to modernize language in several ways, including redefining the “Judicial Department” as the “Judicial Branch” of state government. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the Oregon Constitution does not use the term “branches” to refer to different parts of government.

Another proposal that may be on the 2012 ballot would create a prohibition on judges as “incumbents” on a ballot, if a study required by the ballot measure shows that there is any advantage to that designation. There is considerable anecdotal evidence that such a designation is advantageous to most candidates for office, particularly in lesser publicized races. This proposal has not been approved for signature gathering so it is unknown whether it will make it on the ballot next year.

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