January 31, 2008

Oregon Voters and the Oregon Supreme Court

Since the Oregon Supreme Court is in the news today, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about that court. It is not every day that a state Supreme Court refuses to find error in a trial after the United States Supreme Court had held that the defendant's due process rights were violated during the trial. A poll of Oregon voters commissioned in 2006 explored voter attitudes and knowledge of the Oregon Supreme Court. 44 percent thought the court engaged in "judicial activism" while 26 percent said the court did not, and 30 percent did not have an opinion. 70 percent said they had "trust" in the court. Only 20 percent knew how many justices (7) sit on the court. 79 percent could not name a single justice on the court, and only a bare majority realized that justices were elected by the voters. 53% thought voters should have the final say on the validity of laws in Oregon, and only 30% thought the Supreme Court should have that authority.

The poll contains many other questions about specific cases decided before 2006 by the court. It is a very interesting snapshot of how the people who live in Oregon view the Supreme Court.