The Oregon Constitution was framed by a convention of 60 delegates chosen by the people. The convention met on the third Monday in August 1857 and adjourned on September 18 of the same year. On November 9, 1857, the Constitution was approved by the vote of the people of Oregon Territory. The Act of Congress admitting Oregon into the Union was approved February 14, 1859, and on that date the Constitution went into effect.
The Constitution is here published as it is in effect following the approval of amendments on May 16, 1995. The text of the original signed copy of the Constitution filed in the office of the Secretary of State is retained unless it has been repealed or superseded by amendment. Where the original text has been amended or where a new provision has been added to the original Constitution, the source of the amendment or addition is indicated in the source note immediately following the text of the amended or new section. Notations also have been made setting out the history of repealed sections.
Unless otherwise specifically noted, the lead lines for the sections have been supplied by the Legislative Counsel.
1. Natural rights inherent in people
2. Freedom of worship
3. Freedom of religious opinion
4. No religious qualification for office
5. No money to be appropriated for religion
6. No religious test for witnesses or jurors
7. Manner of administering oath or affirmation
8. Freedom of speech and press
9. Unreasonable searches or seizures
10. Administration of justice
11. Rights of accused in criminal prosecution
12. Double jeopardy; compulsory self-incrimination
13. Treatment of arrested or confined persons
14. Bailable offenses
15. Reformation the basis of criminal law
16. Excessive bail and fines; cruel and unusual punishments; power of jury in criminal case
17. Jury trial in civil cases
18. Private property or services taken for public use
19. Imprisonment for debt
20. Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens
21. Ex-post facto laws; laws impairing contracts; laws depending on authorization in order to take effect; laws submitted to electors
22. Suspension of operation of laws
23. Habeas corpus
25. Corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate
26. Assemblages of people; instruction of representatives; application to legislature
27. Right to bear arms; military subordinate to civil power
28. Quartering soldiers
29. Titles of nobility; hereditary distinctions
31. Rights of aliens; immigration to state.
32. Taxes and duties; uniformity of taxation
33. Enumeration of rights not exclusive
34. Slavery or involuntary servitude
34. Sale of liquor by individual glass
35. Free negroes and mulattoes.
36. Capital punishment abolished.
36a. Liquor prohibition.
37. Penalty for murder in first degree.
39. Sale of liquor by individual glass.
40. Penalty for aggravated murder
Section 1. Natural rights inherent in people. We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper. --
Section 2. Freedom of worship. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. --
Section 3. Freedom of religious opinion. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religeous (sic) opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience. --
Section 4. No religious qualification for office. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of trust or profit. --
Section 5. No money to be appropriated for religion. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any religeous (sic), or theological institution, nor shall any money be appropriated for the payment of any religeous (sic) services in either house of the Legislative Assembly. --
Section 6. No religious test for witnesses or jurors. No person shall be rendered incompetent as a witness, or juror in consequence of his opinions on matters of religeon (sic); nor be questioned in any Court of Justice touching his religeous (sic) belief to affect the weight of his testimony. --
Section 7. Manner of administering oath or affirmation. The mode of administering an oath, or affirmation shall be such as may be most consistent with, and binding upon the conscience of the person to whom such oath or affirmation may be administered. --
Section 8. Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right. --
Section 9. Unreasonable searches or seizures. No law shall violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search, or seizure; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath, or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized. --
Section 10. Administration of justice. No court shall be secret, but justice shall be administered, openly and without purchase, completely and without delay, and every man shall have remedy by due course of law for injury done him in his person, property, or reputation. --
Section 11. Rights of accused in criminal prosecution. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to public trial by an impartial jury in the county in which the offense shall have been committed; to be heard by himself and counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; provided, however, that any accused person, in other than capital cases, and with the consent of the trial judge, may elect to waive trial by jury and consent to be tried by the judge of the court alone, such election to be in writing; provided, however, that in the circuit court ten members of the jury may render a verdict of guilty or not guilty, save and except a verdict of guilty of first degree murder, which shall be found only by a unanimous verdict, and not otherwise; provided further, that the existing laws and constitutional provisions relative to criminal prosecutions shall be continued and remain in effect as to all prosecutions for crimes committed before the taking effect of this amendment. Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by S.J.R. No. 4, 1931, and adopted by people Nov. 8, 1932; Amendment proposed by S.J.R. No. 4, 1933 (2d s.s.), and adopted by people May 18, 1934
Note: The lead line to section 11 was a part of the measure submitted to the people by S.J.R. No. 4, 1933 (2d s.s.).
Section 12. Double jeopardy; compulsory self-incrimination. No person shall be put in jeopardy twice for the same offence (sic), nor be compelled in any criminal prosecution to testify against himself. --
Section 13. Treatment of arrested or confined persons. No person arrested, or confined in jail, shall be treated with unnecessary rigor. --
Section 14. Bailable offenses. Offences (sic), except murder, and treason, shall be bailable by sufficient sureties. Murder or treason, shall not be bailable, when the proof is evident, or the presumption strong. --
Section 15. Reformation the basis of criminal law. Laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice. --
Section 16. Excessive bail and fines; cruel and unusual punishments; power of jury in criminal case. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed. Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted, but all penalties shall be proportioned to the offense.--In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law, and the facts under the direction of the Court as to the law, and the right of new trial, as in civil cases.
Section 17. Jury trial in civil cases. In all civil cases the right of Trial by Jury shall remain inviolate. --
Section 18. Private property or services taken for public use. Private property shall not be taken for public use, nor the particular services of any man be demanded, without just compensation; nor except in the case of the state, without such compensation first assessed and tendered; provided, that the use of all roads, ways and waterways necessary to promote the transportation of the raw products of mine or farm or forest or water for beneficial use or drainage is necessary to the development and welfare of the state and is declared a public use. Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by S.J.R. No. 17, 1919, and adopted by people May 21, 1920; Amendment proposed by S.J.R. No. 8, 1923, and adopted by people Nov. 4, 1924
Section 19. Imprisonment for debt. There shall be no imprisonment for debt, except in case of fraud or absconding debtors. --
Section 20. Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens. --
Section 21. Ex-post facto laws; laws impairing contracts; laws depending on authorization in order to take effect; laws submitted to electors. No ex-post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall ever be passed, nor shall any law be passed, the taking effect of which shall be made to depend upon any authority, except as provided in this Constitution; provided, that laws locating the Capitol of the State, locating County Seats, and submitting town, and corporate acts, and other local, and Special laws may take effect, or not, upon a vote of the electors interested. --
Section 22. Suspension of operation of laws. The operation of the laws shall never be suspended, except by the Authority of the Legislative Assembly.
Section 23. Habeas corpus. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless in case of rebellion, or invasion the public safety require it. --
Section 24. Treason. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid or comfort.--No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open Court. --
Section 25. Corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. No conviction shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture of estate. --
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 greviances (sic). --
Section 27. Right to bear arms; military subordinate to civil power. The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence (sic) of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power .
Section 28. Quartering soldiers. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, except in the manner prescribed by law.
Section 29. Titles of nobility; hereditary distinctions. No law shall be passed granting any title of Nobility, or conferring hereditary distinctions. --
Section 30. Emigration. No law shall be passed prohibiting emigration from the State. --
Section 31. Rights of aliens; immigration to state. Constitution of 1859; repeal proposed by H.J.R. 16, 1969, and adopted by people May 26, 1970
Section 32. Taxes and duties; uniformity of taxation. No tax or duty shall be imposed without the consent of the people or their representatives in the Legislative Assembly; and all taxation shall be uniform on the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax. Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by H.J.R. No. 16, 1917, and adopted by people June 4, 1917
Section 33. Enumeration of rights not exclusive. This enumeration of rights, and privileges shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people. --
Section 34. Slavery or involuntary servitude. There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. -- Added to Bill of Rights as unnumbered section by vote of people at time of adoption of the Oregon Constitution in accordance with section 4 of Article XVIII thereof
Section 35. Free negroes and mulattoes. Added to Bill of Rights as unnumbered section by vote of people at time of adoption of the Oregon Constitution in accordance with Section 4 of Article XVIII thereof; Repeal proposed by H.J.R. No. 8, 1925, and adopted by people Nov. 2, 1926
Section 36. Liquor prohibition. Created through initiative petition filed July 1, 1914, adopted by people Nov. 3, 1914; Repeal proposed by initiative petition filed March 20, 1933, and adopted by people July 21, 1933
Section 36. Capital punishment abolished. Created through initiative petition filed July 2, 1914, adopted by people Nov. 3, 1914; Repeal proposed by S.J.R. No. 8, 1920 (s.s.), and adopted by people May 21, 1920, as Const. Art. I, ū38 Note: At the general election in 1914 two sections, each designated as section 36, were created and added to the Constitution by separate initiative petitions. One of these sections was the prohibition section and the other abolished capital punishment.
Section 36a. Prohibition of importation of liquors. Created through initiative petition filed July 6, 1916, adopted by people Nov. 7, 1916; Repeal proposed by initiative petition filed March 20, 1933, and adopted by people July 21, 1933
Section 37. Penalty for murder in first degree. Created through S.J.R. No. 8, 1920, adopted by people May 21, 1920; Repeal proposed by S.J.R. No. 3, 1963, and adopted by people Nov. 3, 1964
Section 38. Laws abrogated by amendment abolishing death penalty revived. Created through S.J.R. No. 8, 1920, adopted by people May 21, 1920; Repeal proposed by S.J.R. No. 3, 1963, and adopted by people Nov. 3, 1964
Section 39. Sale of liquor by individual glass. The State shall have power to license private clubs, fraternal organizations, veterans' organizations, railroad corporations operating interstate trains and commercial establishments where food is cooked and served, for the purpose of selling alcoholic liquor by the individual glass at retail, for consumption on the premises, including mixed drinks and cocktails, compounded or mixed on the premises only. The Legislative Assembly shall provide in such detail as it shall deem advisable for carrying out and administering the provisions of this amendment and shall provide adequate safeguards to carry out the original intent and purpose of the Oregon Liquor Control Act, including the promotion of temperance in the use and consumption of alcoholic beverages, encourage the use and consumption of lighter beverages and aid in the establishment of Oregon industry. This power is subject to the following: (1) The provisions of this amendment shall take effect and be in operation sixty (60) days after the approval and adoption by the people of Oregon; provided, however, the right of a local option election exists in the counties and in any incorporated city or town containing a population of at least five hundred (500). The Legislative Assembly shall prescribe a means and a procedure by which the voters of any county or incorporated city or town as limited above in any county, may through a local option election determine whether to prohibit or permit such power, and such procedure shall specifically include that whenever fifteen per cent (15%) of the registered voters of any county in the state or of any incorporated city or town as limited above, in any county in the state, shall file a petition requesting an election in this matter, the question shall be voted upon at the next regular November biennial election, provided said petition is filed not less than sixty (60) days before the day of election. (2) Legislation relating to this matter shall operate uniformly throughout the state and all individuals shall be treated equally; and all provisions shall be liberally construed for the accomplishment of these purposes. Created through initiative petition filed July 2, 1952, adopted by people Nov. 4, 1952
Section 40. Penalty for aggravated murder. Notwithstanding sections 15 and 16 of this Article, the penalty for aggravated murder as defined by law shall be death upon unanimous affirmative jury findings as provided by law and otherwise shall be life imprisonment with minimum sentence as provided by law. Created through initiative petition filed July 6, 1983, adopted by people Nov. 6, 1984
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