Thatcher v. Rosenblum
On November 4, 2014, voters in Oregon overwhelmingly rejected a law passed in 2013 that would grant driver’s license cards to illegal aliens. Ballot Measure 88, which put Senate Bill 833 up for voter approval, was defeated by a landslide of more than 66% of voters. IRLI represented Measure 88’s sponsor, Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), a local group whose mission is to support enforcement of immigration law. OFIR initiated the referendum of the law by working tirelessly to gather over 71,000 signatures in just a few months to get Measure 88 on the ballot. This issue is important because driver’s licenses draw in illegal aliens by making life more practicable.
On behalf of OFIR, IRLI helped draft the ballot title, summary of law, and questions presented to voters that was ultimately chosen by the state attorney general and certified by the secretary of state for the ballot. Many times, the ballot language is all that voters see on an issue and is thus critical to winning any measure.
After the public comment period had closed on the ballot language, the Oregon Attorney General inserted new language into the measure’s text. As a result, IRLI filed a Petition to Review Ballot Title Certified by the Attorney General (attached here) in the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of the chief petitioners. The petitioners objected to the Attorney General’s actions because it did not substantially comply with statutory requirements. First, a sentence in the summary did not properly identify the actual effects of enacting the measure. Second, the summary used very politically charged phrases that could sway voters. Finally, the summary only speculated about possible effects of the proposed measure instead of relaying concrete information about the measure’s effects.