Washington, D.C. – After Oregon – along with Alabama, Tennessee, and Vermont – passed ballot measures to strip antiquated language from state constitutions that allowed slavery and forced labor as punishments for crimes, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement calling for federal action on his Constitutional Amendment, known as the Abolition Amendment, which would remove the ‘Slavery Clause’ from the 13th Amendment:
“After the Civil War, the ‘Slavery Clause’ was used to arrest and convict Black Americans under false pretenses, continuing slavery even after the 13th Amendment was passed. This horrific loophole in our Constitution is a moral abomination that launched the mass incarceration we see continuing to this day.
“On Tuesday, voters in Oregon and other states came together across party lines to say that this stain must be removed from state constitutions. Now, it is time for all Americans to come together and say that it must be struck from the U.S. Constitution. There should be no exceptions to a ban on slavery, and we need to enact the Abolition Amendment that Rep. Nikema Williams and I have put forward.”