Oregon Remove Constitutional References to Race, Measure 14 (2002)

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Oregon Ballot Measure 14 (2002) or Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 7 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that would remove historical references in the Oregon Constitution referring to race.

Background and summary:

The Oregon Constitution, adopted before the Civil War, referred to the state's "white population," "white" inhabitants, "free Negroes" and "mulattoes." These references are obsolete. In some cases, amendments have superseded the references. In other cases, the references are in sections that no longer have any force or effect. Nevertheless, the references to race remain in the constitution. Ballot Measure 14 removes the references to race. The measure does not change the constitution in any other way.

The Oregon Constitution contains language that establishes numerical thresholds for expanding the number of State Supreme Court Justices, requiring that Supreme Court and Circuit Judges be elected by the people, and requiring that counties be reimbursed for certain court costs. The numerical thresholds are not tied to the number of citizens residing in Oregon, but are instead tied to the number of white inhabitants of the state.

The Oregon Constitution was ratified in 1857, prior to the Civil War. Prior to adoption of the Oregon Constitution, the Oregon Territory had enacted two African-American exclusion bills (1844 and 1849) that banned African-Americans from owning property or residing in Oregon.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1868. The 14th Amendment provides that anyone born or naturalized in the United States is a citizen. The 14th Amendment also bans states from enacting or enforcing laws that deny citizens equal protection or due process of law based on race. In 1925, Oregon voters repealed the constitutional provisions relating to the exclusion of African-Americans. However, the language relating to race remains in the Oregon Constitution.

Ballot Measure 14 removes the references to race in these sections of the constitution, and also corrects some spelling errors. The measure does not change the constitution in any other way, and the original language will remain as part of the historical record.[1]

Official Ballot Title

Removes Historical Racial References In Obsolete Sections Of Oregon Constitution, Article VII (Original), Article XVIII


Support and Opposition

No information yet


  1. Measure 14 Public Hearing Notice from the State Elections Division

See also