With Final Briefs Filed, Kristof Decision Looms

Updated: The filing of four amicus briefs delays court deliberations.

Democratic candidate for governor Nicholas Kristof’s appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court is nearing resolution.

Kristof filed his opening brief Jan 14. On Jan. 20, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan filed her reply brief with the high court, defending her Jan. 6 decision to exclude Kristof from the ballot for not meeting the state constitution’s three-year residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates.

Fagan grounded her argument in the fact that Kristof voted in New York in November 2020—and for the two decades prior to that.

On Jan. 24, six women of color, led by state Reps. Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland) and Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to rule against Kristof.

“Mr. Kristof in his argument to the court calls for the court to elevate above all other issues the fact that he owns a second home and several properties in Oregon, and has raised more than $2.5 million,” Valderrama said in a statement. “That is outrageous and would set a dangerous precedent.”

On Jan. 25, former Secretaries of State Bill Bradbury and Jeanne Atkins also filed an amicus brief, arguing Fagan got it wrong and urging the court to put Kristof on the ballot. “Voters are the ultimate decision makers in elections,” they wrote.

Kristof filed his final rebuttal argument Jan. 26, reiterating his belief that because he grew up in Oregon, has owned property here since the early 1990s, and has always considered the state his home, he meets the residency requirement.

On the same day, more interested parties peppered the court with additional amicus briefs.

Arguing for an expansive definition of residency but taking no position on Kristof’s candidacy: Leaven Community Land and Housing Coalition; University of Oregon Law School assistant professor Angela E. Addae; and David Fidanque, the former longtime head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. Arguing for a stricter definition of residency, based on objective factors such as where a person votes was Harney County clerk and recorder Derrin “Dag” Robinson.

The court has previously said it would begin consideration of the case Jan. 27.

Updated at 4:15 PM Jan. 27: The court’s original schedule called for briefings to conclude Jan. 26, but Oregon Judicial Department spokesman Todd Sprague now says that the docket will remain open until 11:59:59 pm on Jan. 28 to give attorneys for Fagan and Kristof time to respond to the amicus briefs filed in the case should they choose to do so.

Clarification: This story originally said the amicus brief filed by Leaven, Addae and Fidanque supported Kristof’s inclusion on the ballot.