Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Attorneys For Oregon Judge Say He's Been Made A 'Guinea Pig'

Ashley Smith
Statesman Journal
Pool photo. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day looks on during the hearing by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability.

An Oregon judicial commission kicked off a two-week hearing Monday. The panel is considering the fate of a judge who's accused of screening out same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies.

Judge Vance Day said his deep religious beliefs prevent him from marrying same-sex couples. He said he asked his staff to direct those couples to other judges.

Day's attorney, Ralph Spooner, says the Salem judge has been made a guinea pig to see whether other judges who share Day's convictions can be punished.

"He's the vehicle by which this issue is being litigated in Oregon,” Spooner said. “He's the one they picked on. He's got the target on his back."

Oregon judges aren't required to perform weddings. But Victoria Blachly, the attorney presenting the Judicial Commission's side, said Day erred when he chose only to marry some couples.

"When a Judge in Oregon takes an oath, they must uphold the law, even when it's a challenge to the judge,” Blachly said.

The Commission will consider this and a dozen other charges against Judge Day before it makes a recommendation to the Oregon Supreme Court.