Lawsuit seeks to overturn Oregon’s ban on First Nation buying ‘love letters’

New Oregon law that bans so-called “love letters,” personal notes from potential buyers to home sellers, has filed a lawsuit to strike it down on First Amendment grounds before its entry into force in 2022.

Lawsuit filed in Portland U.S. District Court on Friday by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation says the Oregon legislature had no justification for making the state the first in the country to ban buyers from sending letters to sellers to try to soften their offers of houses for sale.

These letters, often written to ask a buyer to accept a potentially less competitive offer, have been banned by lawmakers seeking to ensure that sellers cannot make decisions based on race, national origin, state marital or family, sex, sexual orientation or other protected class.

Governor Kate Brown signed Bill 2550, sponsored by State Representative Mark Meek, D-Clackamas, in June. It had unanimously passed the House of Representatives and the State Senate on a majority partisan vote.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Total Real Estate Group, a Bend company of 20 agents, says lawmakers have provided no evidence that such discrimination is taking place and that federal and state laws already prohibit discrimination in housing. The trial was first reported by USA Today.

“This is a particularly egregious violation of the First Amendment,” said Daniel Ortner, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation. “These letters are extremely precious and they do a lot of good. There is nothing more than speculation that someone somewhere would do something to discriminate on the basis of them.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon Real Property Commissioner Steve Strode, both named in the lawsuit, did not respond to requests for comment.

The ban is expected to go into effect on January 1.

– Rob Davis

[email protected]

503,294,7657; @robwdavis

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