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Posts published in “Day: March 13, 2008”

Nope to the “random and suspicionless”

Washington courts The concept that government officials need a specific, particularized reason to suspect wrongdoing before engaging in invasive searches and seizures seems clear enough, and bluntly enough stated in both th federal and most state constitutions, and yet the courts have to continue reasserting it.

But at least they generally do, as the Washington Supreme Court did today in York v. Wahkiakum School District. The shorthand version of the case: "The Wahkiakum School District (school district) randomly drug tests all student athletes under the authority of Wahkiakum School Board Policy No. 3515 (policy 3515). Aaron and Abraham York and Tristan Schneider played sports for Wahkiakum High School, agreed to the policy, and were tested. Their parents (York and Schneider parents) sued the school district alleging its drug testing policy violated article I, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. The school district claims random drug testing, without any individualized suspicion, is constitutional."

The Supreme Court thought not. It did acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court (which has been wobbly at best on the 4th amendment in recent decades) has ruled such searches don't violate the national constitution. But the state constitutions are relevant locally too. And the Washington court held, "The private affair we are concerned with today is the State's interference in a student athlete's bodily functions. Specifically, does it intrude upon a privacy interest to require a student athlete to go into a bathroom stall and provide a urine sample, even against that student's protest? Federal courts and our court both agree the answer is an unqualified yes, such action intrudes into one's reasonable expectation of privacy."

OR filings: A Senate in stasis?

The probability is that the next version of the Oregon State Senate, following this November's elections, will look a lot like the last one: 18 Democrats, 12 Republicans, a partisan balance narrowed by one.

With candidate filings in hand, arriving at so precise a number isn't especially daring. Our estimate could could change in the months ahead along with conditions, but probably not by much.

Run through the numbers, and you'll soon get the sense there's remarkably little in serious question.

The Oregon Senate has 30 members, half up for election each biennium. Of the 15 holdover seats (not up for election again until 2010), 11 are held by Democrats and four by Republicans. Some of those seats are likely to come open before long (Democrat Brad Avakian's, for example), but they will be filled for the rest of the term by fell0w party members. So those numbers are set. That means Democrats need only five more senators elected this year to secure a majority.

And they probably have them already. Four Democrats this year are unopposed for re-election (Joanne Verger in District 5, Diane Rosenbaum in 21, Margaret Carter in 22, Laurie Monnes Anderson in 23), and in District 23 the only candidates are two Democrats competing in the primary. Republicans could try a write-in effort for one or more of these, but all five look now like slam dunks. When you consider the three unopposed Republicans from eastern Oregon, that gives you totals of 16-7.

And the other seven competitive districts? Well, most of them aren't especially competitive. (more…)

OR filings: One house to consider

First of several posts on the recently-completed Oregon candidate filings.

Kind of amazing what an open seat will do to generate some interest - meaning, at this point, lots of candidates. And on the congressional level in Oregon, there's just one of those, Oregon 5.

For Oregon's five U.S. House districts, 21 people have filed as candidates. Of those, eight have filed for just the 5th, which is open now that incumbent Democrat Darlene Hooley is retiring.

And it's a busy deal on both sides. Both Republicans and Democrats have a couple of contenders who could be considered relatively serious candidates - among Republicans, Kevin Mannix (often on the statewide ballot before and a near-winner once) and Mike Erickson (the party's nominee in 2006), and among Democrats Kurt Schrader (an established state senator) and Steve Marks (formerly an aide to then-Governor John Kitzhaber). But three other Democrats and one other Republican have filed as well.

For now, our guess would be this evolves to a Mannix/Schrader race. But it could go in other directions.

At the other end of the spectrum is Oregon's 4th district, the seat held by Democrat Peter DeFazio: He is unopposed for re-election. That's a real admission of defeat by the state Republican organization, because the 4th isn't even one of the two most lopsided districts in the state.

Those would be the 2nd (strongly Republican, held by Greg Walden) and the 3rd (Democratic, held by Earl Blumenauer); unless one of them blossoms into something unexpected, the little-known challengers they have drawn from the opposing party can be considered little more than tokens. Pretty much the same situation has developed in the 1st district (Democrat David Wu).

At least we have some fun in the 5th.