Byron Beck phones it in from Pioneer Courthouse:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments today in Lemons v. Bradbury, the lawsuit seeking to revive 2007's failed referendum against Oregon's domestic-partnership law. The hearing was just held in a packed courthouse, and lasted about one hour. It got out at around 12:15, and both sides were able to present their case, with many questions raised by the judges. The court has expedited the case, which was filed by the Arizona-based conservative Christian group Alliance Defense Fund in an effort to have the court force Oregon elections officials (including Secretary of State Bill Bradbury) to change how they treat signatures on initiative and referendum petitions. A lower court ruled in Oregon's favor, but Alliance appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit.
Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, believes the case was expedited so voters can have their signatures counted for the next general election. "Voters need to be heard in November," he says.
Basic Rights Oregon, who assisted the state in its defense, felt the court clearly understood the initiative process and the role of out-of-state organizations in trying to muscle the process their way. BRO executive director Jeana Frazzini says, "Out-of-state interests with very unpopular views in our state don't like the outcome on their referendum and are trying to get a do-over." Margaret Olney, counsel for BRO, said she would "not speak for the state" but felt "it would be very surprising if they would overturn the lower court's decision because not only would it affect Oregon but it could affect other states in the 9th District."