We filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Oregon Supreme Court arguing that the free expression and voting protections in our state constitution must be given equal weight to ensure that the foundation of our democracy remains strong and intact. This means that, under Article II, section 8 of the Oregon Constitution, some limits on campaign contributions and expenditures must be permitted, and that campaign financing sources must be transparent. At the same time, the strong protection for political expression under Article I, section 8 of the Oregon Constitution should be reaffirmed.
The system of electing candidates to office is badly in need of repair. There is a legitimate and growing public concern about the impact of big money in politics. To build an effective and truly representative government, valid concerns about free speech and free association must be harmonized with equally valuable concerns about free and fair elections. Under the current system, the voices and interests of the wealthy few are unduly favored, and the exclusion of historically marginalized communities is perpetuated.
We will continue to advocate for reform of the current state system, including our longstanding commitment to public financing of campaigns and appropriate disclosures. We should not simply push to conform Oregon’s system to the federal system, but should chart a new path forward for our state. In doing so, we should stress fidelity to the principles protected by the Oregon Constitution with the goal of expanding, not limiting, political speech.