Oregon’s Senate approves constitutional amendment that allows judges to teach and to continue to serve as jurists

Many, if not most, states have a constitutional prohibition on judges or other elected/appointed officials from also working for the government in some other capacity or serving in some other office. In Oregon, that’s Article III, Section 1

The powers of the Government shall be divided into three seperate [sic] departments, the Legislative, the Executive, including the administrative, and the Judicial; and no person charged with official duties under one of these departments, shall exercise any of the functions of another, except as in this Constitution expressly provided.

One such exemption was added in 1958 (Article XV, Section 8)

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1 article III and section 10 article II [relating to legislators holding other office -BR] of the Constitution of the State of Oregon, a person employed by the State Board of Higher Education, a member of any school board or employee thereof, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislative Assembly and such membership in the Legislative Assembly shall not prevent such person from being employed by the State Board of Higher Education or from being a member or employee of a school board.

SJR 14 of 2011, as amended would add a second exception to Article XV, Section 8 for judges

A person serving as a judge of any court of this state may be employed by the State Board of Higher Education or a school board for the purpose of teaching, and the employment does not prevent the person from serving as a judge.

The original SJR 14 included a provision allowing judges to be in the Oregon National Guard for purpose of performing military service, but was amended out in committee. The Senate approved the revised version unanimously on June 6, however the legislature could adjourn as early as tomorrow and it is unclear if the House will have any opportunity to take up the SJR.