Measure 40

Explanatory Statement

Ballot Measure 40 amends the Oregon Constitution to require that judges of the Supreme Court and any other appellate court created by law, which includes the existing Court of Appeals, be elected by district. Voters in each Supreme Court district would elect one judge. Voters in each Court of Appeals district would elect two judges. Under current law, voters elect each of the seven Supreme Court and ten Court of Appeals judges on a statewide basis when the positions are up for election; those courts hear cases primarily in Salem.

Ballot Measure 40 requires each judge of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to have been a resident of his or her district for at least one year before the judge's appointment or election. Following appointment or election, the judge would be required to remain a resident of the district throughout the judge's six-year term of office. Under current law, a Supreme Court judge must have been an Oregon resident for at least three years before appointment or election, and a Court of Appeals judge must be an elector of the judge's county of residence.

Ballot Measure 40 sets the number of Supreme Court judges at its present number of seven and requires the legislature to divide the state into seven districts for appointing and electing Supreme Court judges. Under current law, the number of Supreme Court judges is subject to change by statute. The measure also requires that any other appellate court created by law, except for an appellate tax court, must have ten judges and requires the legislature to divide the state into five appellate districts with two Court of Appeals judges for each district. Current law provides for a ten-judge Court of Appeals, and the number of judges of the Court of Appeals presently is subject to change by statute in any amount.

Ballot Measure 40 requires the legislature to create the judicial districts based on population and to reapportion the districts regularly. The legislature also would be required to assign the current judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to judicial districts. Any judge who does not reside in the assigned district would be required to move to the district at least one year before re-election. This requirement also applies to reapportioned districts.

The original Oregon Constitution provided for election of justices by district and for changing district boundaries. It also stated that no change of districts could remove a justice from office or require the justice to change residence; this measure does not contain such provisions.

Ballot Measure 40 addresses procedures for filling vacancies after a reapportionment and for recall of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges. Also, under this measure, Supreme Court or Court of Appeals judges who run for election for the first time in a newly created or reapportioned judicial district would not be considered incumbents. Current law provides that regularly elected or appointed judges are identified on the ballot as incumbents.

Committee Members: / Appointed By:
Kevin Mannix / Chief Petitioners
Bob Swift / Chief Petitioners
Keith Garza / Secretary of State
Maureen Leonard / Secretary of State
Jim Nass / Members of the Committee

(This committee was appointed to provide an impartial explanation of the ballot measure pursuant to ORS 251.215.)

Elections Division, Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722