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Does the Capitol Have to be “Open” to the Public?
What does “open” mean?

The closure of the Oregon Capitol during the 2021 Session begs the question, "Where in law does it require that the Capitol be open to the public during sessions?" There are two places in the Oregon Constitution that could be read as requiring this. The first is pretty explicit:

Article IV, Section 14. Deliberations to be open; rules to implement requirement. The deliberations of each house, of committees of each house or joint committees and of committees of the whole, shall be open. Each house shall adopt rules to implement the requirement of this section and the houses jointly shall adopt rules to implement the requirements of this section in any joint activity that the two houses may undertake.

This requires that the deliberations be open, but doesn't define what "open" means. The 2021 session featured many electronic methods of openness -- implemented with more or less success -- but that may or may not be "open." It hasn't been litigated. The second is less explict:

Article I, Section 26. Assemblages of people; instruction of representatives; application to legislature. No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good; nor from instructing their Representatives; nor from applying to the Legislature for redress of grievances.

"Consult for the common good" can be read as discussing politics.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-21 12:35:38Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:04:37



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