Well, we've had a few days to think about Measure 37 and the activist judge who "found" it unconstitutional.
Other blogs have handled the legal arguments. Other blogs have analyzed the loss of individual liberty to the hands of the State.
I'm going to address a different issue: what this means for upcoming elections. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say something controversial: this may be the best thing to happen to Oregon.
A single appointed judge throwing a sucker punch to the guts of over one million voters and damaging private property rights AND the ballot initiative process is a good thing?
You betcha! In the long run...
This case will, of course, be appealed. And knowing what I know about the Oregon courts, my estimate is that the case will be heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals in the next few months, and a decision will be reached about a year from now. And I fully expect the liberal activist Oregon Court of Appeals to uphold this case.
In other words, the decision, which today only affects a single county, will become state law about a month or so before the 2006 election for Governor, the Legislature, the courts, and a number of county and local offices.
And voters will be pissed.
I heard Kevin Mannix and Jason Atkinson talking on the radio about this today. Ron Saxton was on as well, but I missed him. Kevin and Jason both sounded pretty ticked off. But there was a marked difference in their tones. Kevin talked like a lawyer, ready to draft legislation, etc., to fix the problem. And that's a good thing. But Jason sounded like an Oregonian. I could tell he was fighting to keep his emotion in check (also a good thing), but I got the chills hearing him talk because he captured in his criticism of the decision the spirit of the million Oregonians who, once again, had their decision cast out by a single elitist.
I think voters who hear Jason speak about Measure 37 are going to find not another politician, but someone who thinks like they do. He is ready for change in Oregon. And I believe the people will finally be ready as well. If he can develop a positive message about the issues of the Measure 37 decision, a message of a change in the political culture of the State, and get his message across to the voters in the next few months, he can walk away with the primary and the general election.
And of course, it isn't just Atkinson who stands to gain from this. Mannix will also gain, as he too is on the side of the vast majority of Oregonians. Saxton might also pick up new supporters, depending on how he comes off. This is a gain for the Republican Party as a whole, as the democRat Governor and the democRats in control of the Senate have been weak on Measure 37 from the beginning. Atkinson, Mannix, and possibly Saxton will each siphon votes, not from each other, but from Kulongoski.
This could also be a huge leap for newcomers to the Oregon courts. Jack Roberts can probably ride this one all the way to a black robe. And if a credible conservative challenger to Justice Durhan comes along, the upcoming statewide detest of incumbent judges could result in a major shift on the Supreme Court of Oregon. And God help any member of the Court of Appeals up for re-election in 2006 who is part of a majority that upholds the trial court decision!
Kevin Mannix: are you listening? Now, more than ever, you have the power to enter the race for Supreme Court of Oregon and dethrone Justice Durham. Between Measure 37 and the "live sex acts for cash is protected free expression" cases, we are overdue for an upheaval.
This will also have a huge impact on the Legislature. I think we can expect the Oregon House to gain Republican seats, and the Oregon Senate to shift into Republican control. Jim Torrey has probably gone from a "could defeat the incumbent" to a "could pummel the incumbent beyond recognition" candidate for State Senate.
Of course, as this is a state issue, not a federal issue, you'd expect the effect on U.S. House races to be minimal. But the sheer outrage among Oregonians against the status quo in light of Measure 37 could be so great that even Jim Feldkamp might have a very real shot at defeating Peter DeFazio.
And what will happen come 2008?
This just might be the one single issue capable of causing enough of a shift in voter perception to put Oregon seriously into play for the 2008 Presidential election. I'm not saying the Republicans will win the state over this. But I am saying that, since Republicans have only lost this state to democRats by one or two percent in the last two elections, a sea change in the attitudes of voters towards the establishment (which, in Oregon, means democRats), could be more than enough to change that 1-2% from blue to red.
Friday, October 14, 2005, just might have been the day that Oregon became a conservative Republican "red state."
I may need to buy that judge a beer.