Oregon Right to Life is no stranger to endorsing, supporting, and providing information about political candidates. In June 2016, however, a bitter battle ensued between Republicans, that culminated in a lawsuit that threatened Oregon Right to Life’s first amendment right to communicate with voters.
Former Representative Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) was accused in 2012 of giving alcohol to a staffer under 21 and pressuring her into a relationship. This led to his stepping down from his position. Wingard ran again in 2016, and Oregon Right to Life (ORTL), alongside the Oregon Family Council (OFC), informed voters of Wingard’s action while in office. Soon after the fliers were printed and distributed, ORTL and OFC were sued by Wingard for defamation.
The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, where the judge initially ruled in favor of Wingard. ORTL and other defendants appealed under an Anti-SLAPP motion. The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts ruling.
Finally, as of June 11, the Oregon Supreme Court denied Wingard of his appeal, granting Oregon Right to Life a key victory in their legal battles. A statement was sent out to Oregon Right to Life supporters, reading, “This is a great day for us, but more importantly this is a great day for free speech in Oregon. The right to communicate freely with voters about candidates was upheld.”