Buehler v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 10-03-2013
  • Case #: S061408
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc.

A ballot title must comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a) and reasonably identify the subject matter, which means that it would give effect to the actual major effect(s) if the measure was put into law. Additionally, a summary of the ballot title, under ORS 250.035(2)(d,) must be a concise and impartial statement of not more than 125 words that summarizes the state measure and its major effect.

Petitioners (Buehler) sought review of the Attorney General's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 11 (2014). Buehler argued that the ballot measure caption did not comply with ORS 250.035(2) because the language in the ballot caption and the 'yes' vote result statement do not accurately reflect the actual major effect of the measure. The language drafted by the Attorney General implies that the measure, if passed, would repeal laws. In Buehler's mind, the measure would not repeal laws, but would rather change and modify them. The Attorney General argued that even though the measure does not expressly repeal the laws, it implies that it will do so. The Court began by looking at the current law as compared to the proposed measure if adopted. The Court found that nothing in the proposed measure expressly repeals any laws. However, the Court noted that if a new law essentially replaces an older law and there can be no reconciliation between the two, then the new law impliedly repeals the old law. The Court did not find in this case that the old law would be completely replaced and, therefore, held that the word "repeal" was used incorrectly by the Attorney General in the ballot caption. Furthermore, the Court found that the summary of the ballot title was incorrect by stating that the new law, if passed, would "prohibit" laws. Instead, enforcement of such laws would be restricted, but not prohibited. Therefore, it did not comply with ORS 250.035(2)(d). The ballot title is referred to the Attorney General for modification.

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