Tag Archives: constitutional amendment

Ohio Lawyers and Judges Agree on Issue 2

This fall, Ohioans will be asked to consider a constitutional amendment to change the way the state draws legislative and congressional district maps. Because of the amendment’s direct impact on the Ohio judiciary, the Ohio State Bar Association opposes passage of the amendment.

Currently, the Ohio Legislature and the Apportionment Board redraw state and congressional district maps every 10 years to reflect population shifts. The proposed measure would create a 12-person citizen commission consisting of registered voters selected and vetted through a panel of appellate court judges. Further, the proposed amendment could force the Supreme Court of Ohio to select a plan should the commission be unable to come to an agreement, and if a court battle ensued over the proposed commission’s plan, the proposal could force the Supreme Court of Ohio to choose between possibly unconstitutional plans.

While the OSBA and OJC take no position on the merits of the proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting (i.e., we take no position on whether the legislature, the Apportionment Board, the commission or any other entity should draw congressional district and state general assembly lines), we have deep concerns about requiring judges of Ohio’s Courts of Appeal to vet and appoint commission members, and the proposed amendment’s attempt to force the Supreme Court of Ohio, or any court, to select a proposed commission plan. The proper role for the judiciary is not to develop any redistricting plan, but rather to review such plans should they be challenged in court.

This proposed amendment:

  • Undermines the important constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers where each of the three co-equal branches undertakes particular responsibilities. This proposal inappropriately takes executive and legislative appointment authority and moves it to the judiciary. This politicizes the judicial branch of government, which must remain independent, fair and impartial;
  • Involves the Chief Justice and the appellate judges in political activity unbefitting their offices because the proposal would not insulate these judges from attempted political influence by interest groups in terms of commission appointments and plan selection; and
  • Places these judges, and Ohio’s judicial branch as a whole, in a potential position of conflict should the proposal become law and should a plan face judicial review.
  • All of this undermines the importance of maintaining a fair, impartial and independent judiciary—a sacred and fundamental principle of our constitutional democracy.

    For these reasons, it is the position of the OSBA (and OJC) that it is inappropriate for the judiciary to be involved in the political process that initiates and proposes political boundaries and that the amendment should not be adopted.

    By directly involving the judicial branch of our Ohio government in the most political of activities, that is, redistricting, the proposed amendment attacks a most fundamental of constitutional safeguards, the separation of powers. Therefore, the OSBA opposes this proposal.

    On State Issue 1

    Every 20 years the Ohio voters are required to determine whether a Constitutional convention is necessary to revise the state constitution. The language of the Constitution is as follows:

    “At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirty-two, and in each twentieth year thereafter, the question: ‘Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution[,]’ shall be submitted to the electors of the state; and in case a majority of the electors, voting for and against the calling of a convention, shall decide in favor of a convention, the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide, by law, for the election of delegates, and the assembling of such convention, as is provided in the preceding section; but no amendment of this constitution, agreed upon by any convention assembled in pursuance of this article, shall take effect, until the same shall have been submitted to the electors of the state, and adopted by a majority of those voting thereon.”

    The Ohio Liberty Coalition was asked to provide an analysis of the question: Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the Ohio Constitution.

    The Ohio Constitution requires this issue to be placed on the ballot every 20 years. The voters of Ohio have said “NO” to this provision every time it has been voted on since 1912. If this provision passes, it will necessitate the nomination and election of nearly 100 delegates to a constitutional convention. The delegates will propose changes to the Ohio Constitution. The proposed changes will then be presented to Ohio voters for their approval or rejection. Voters for nearly century have recognized that such an extreme procedure as a constitutional convention is unwarranted. There are more efficient methods of amending the constitution, for example, through either the popular or legislative initiative process. Further, the constitution will be thoroughly reviewed soon. The Ohio legislature has established a commission, which will meet in November 2012 and offer a report of recommendations to the legislature in January on ways to improve the constitution. Any changes would have to be approved later by voters.

    There are two fundamental questions underlying a voting decision on this issue:

    (1) Is there a need for major reform and revision of the Ohio Constitution?

    (2) Is a constitutional convention the best way to make revisions?

    The answer to both questions is “no.” Our present constitution, though not perfect, well serves the citizens of Ohio. There is no strong popular consensus in favor an expensive, contentious constitutional convention. And there are other less severe ways to make what changes are needed—the initiative process continues to work well and the legislature’s scheduled constitutional review will suffice to consider what changes truly need to be made. There simply is no compelling reason to call a constitutional convention, especially given the existing tight economy and the need for legislative belt-tightening.

    In a letter to Coalition Board President Tom Zawistowskiand, who also is President of Portage Ohio Tea Party, Edward Emsweller, Legal Counsel for the Coalition, further explained why the State Issue 1 is not a good idea.

    Since either “good” or “bad” amendments may be proposed through a constitutional convention, the issue is not the amendments themselves, but rather whether the Article 16, Section 3 (calling of a constitutional convention) method is the best means to effect revisions to the Constitution. The calling of a constitutional convention necessitates a separate election of delegates, requiring an expense not involved in the initiative processes. The expense of this method is its primary negative.

    Moreover, such an expense is unwarranted because of a review of the Constitution to take place later this year. In June 2011, the Ohio legislature established the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, a bipartisan group of 12 legislative members and 20 non-legislative members who will serve at least two years. The commission is to meet in November and offer the legislature recommendations for improving the constitution. Any changes would have to be approved later by voters.

    If effective, Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission should be able to solve many of the concerns raised by proponents of Issue 1 are problems like correcting conflicting, outdated and unreasonable laws.

    The Debt Ceiling and the PRA

    By Michael Ramey,

    You’re probably tired of hearing about the debt by now, but did you realize the proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will help keep us out of worse trouble in the future?

    The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been used internationally to urge nations to spend more on their children’s programs, and the CRC Committee has in multiple instances faulted a country for not investing more of its gross domestic product (or GDP) in child aid programs. The Committee has held these nations to be out of compliance with the treaty’s demands – including Moldova, the poorest nation in Europe, which was urged in 2009 to “further increase budget allocations for the implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention.”

    Such criticisms may fall on deaf ears elsewhere in the world, but if we were to ratify the CRC here, “the judges in every State [would be] bound thereby,” regardless of any law or state constitutional provisions to the contrary (U.S. Constitution, Article VI). That means our own courts would be constitutionally bound to correct whatever the Committee says is out of compliance with the treaty.

    So imagine if we had ratified the CRC last year. Added to the already deafening clamor of voices demanding various expenditures not be touched by Congress, our courts would likely be demanding an increase in federal funding of children’s programs to fulfill treaty obligations under the CRC.

    The Parental Rights Amendment will prevent ratification of that treaty and preserve our national sovereignty. At a time when our Congress has been spending way too much already, the last thing we need is the international community (backed by our own courts) demanding that they spend even more!

    The national debt is indeed a huge concern, but let’s not lose sight of how vital our parental rights are as well, for the preservation of our nation, our heritage, and our homes.

    Michael Ramey is Director of Communications at the Parental Rights organization. To learn more about their work and the Parental Rights amendment, go to www.parentalrights.org

    Planned Parenthood Ignores Fetal Pain; Goes After Personhood Amendments

    Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have filed an appeal to the State Supreme Court against Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment, Amendment 26, despite numerous rulings against them.

    In July of 2010, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit to disallow Mississippi voters from voting on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment. In October, the lawsuit was rejected. The Court decision read “Initiative Measure No. 26 has received more than the required amount of signatures to be placed on the ballot and the Constitution recognizes the right of citizens to amend their Constitution.”

    Now Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have appealed to the State Supreme Court, a decision made especially conspicuous by Planned Parenthood’s recent refusal to challenge various “Fetal Pain” bills. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, one abortion in 2010 would have been prevented by the Fetal Pain bill. By contrast, Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment 26 would make all abortion illegal by recognizing the personhood rights, first and foremost the constitutional right to life of all children, born and preborn.

    This is not the first time that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have tried to stop Personhood USA – numerous lawsuits have been filed, albeit largely unsuccessfully, in an attempt to stop Personhood USA and its state affiliates.

    “Of course we expect Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to continue their unholy alliance in attacking personhood bills and amendments,” explained Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA. “They are terrified that abortion will be made illegal. Planned Parenthood, with the help of the ACLU, is fighting for their ‘right’ to kill children for profit.”

    Personhood Amendment 26 states, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

    “Personhood Amendments and bills nationwide merely recognize that all human beings are people,” continued Mason. “Recognizing that all human beings have rights is a sentiment the ACLU should be fighting FOR, not against. Instead, the ACLU has teamed up with Planned Parenthood to ensure that Planned Parenthood’s deep pockets are protected. It is outrageous that the billion dollar abortion industry’s bottom line is more important to them than over one million innocent human lives taken every year by abortion.”

    Personhood USA’s amendments and bills recognize that every human being is a person, and every person has a right to life. Personhood amendments and bills protect every child, no matter their size or age.

    Visit the Personhood USA website to learn more about its mission and Petition to the Ohio Legislature.

    Ohio Liberty Council and Tea Party Groups Challenge Obamacare with Constitutional Amendment

    The Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of over 25 grassroots groups including the Dayton Tea Party, submitted a proposed state constitutional amendment on Monday, March 22, that will “preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.” The amendment, drafted by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, would protect Ohioans from the financial burdens and individual mandates contained in the new federal health care measure passed by Congress. The group filed constitutional amendment summary language and nearly 3,000 signatures from registered voters in 48 counties with the Ohio Secretary of State and Attorney General.

    “The health care reform bill’s requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage essentially asserts that if you are alive, you must buy health insurance that is acceptable to the federal government. However, the mere act of being alive is not commerce that can be regulated by the federal government,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Accordingly, the legislation is constitutionally tenuous, and will take a backseat to our constitutional amendment, which upon enactment, will be a fundamental right amongst all Ohioans.”

    The amendment provides that:

    • In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system;
    • In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance; and
    • In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.

    The amendment does not:

    • Affect laws or rules in effect as of March 19, 2010
    • Affect which services a health care provider or hospital is required to perform or provide
    • Affect terms and conditions of government employment; and
    • Affect any laws calculated to deter fraud or punish wrongdoing in the health care industry.

    This constitutional amendment will do what our leaders in the Statehouse and Congress have failed to do – protect Ohioans from federal mandates on personal behavior.

    Another attempt by Ohio legislators to legalize casino-style gambling

    Apparently, Ohio lawmakers don’t get it. Ohioans are not in favor of padding the pockets of businesses or politicians with family-destroying addition money. For many gamblers, gambling is pathology. This pathology results in the ruin of personal finances, family welfare, and individuals lives. Yet, Ohio politicians seem blind to anything except money, which is evident in the following Dayton Daily News article.

    State Reps. Todd Book, D-McDermott, and Louis Blessing, R-Cincinnati, said on Tuesday, April 7, that they’re drafting legislation based largely on an Ohio Racing Commission plan to put 14,000 slot machines at Ohio’s seven racetracks without a vote of the people.

    They’re gathering cosponsors and hope to introduce the bill next week, Book and Blessing said.

    Separately, Philip Craig, executive director of the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, said he is gathering legislative support for a plan to permit slot machines at bars and restaurants, also without the vote of the people.

    The effort has support from bar owners such as David Grusenmeyer in the Dayton area, who said business at his three bars is the worst he’s seen in 24 years. He owns two bars in Huber Heights and one in Fairborn.

    Work on both proposals comes with the Ohio Ballot Board scheduled to meet on Monday, April 13, to consider a petition from backers of a proposal for casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. The board must give its OK before supporters can begin to gather the 402,275 signatures needed to put the proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot.

    As you can see, the proposed bill is intended to benefit only a few businesses. The reason Ohio needs slot machine gambling at racetracks and in bars is to bailout them out of their financial recession.

    Even worse is the repeated use of this golden cash cow to save education from its supposed financial woes justification is getting nauseating.

    The state’s weak economy combined with money woes at the tracks make it the right time to discuss expanding the Ohio Lottery to include slot machines at the tracks, said Book. The proposal will call for 51 percent of gross revenue to go to education, said Blessing.

    If the economy were so bad that people aren’t spending enough of their unemployment or stimulus checks, how would gambling solve this cash flow problem? Maybe, the best thing for voters handing onto to their dollars is for such business to cease to exist. Taxpayers should refuse to allow politicians to use their tax dollars to prop up poorly managed businesses or those whose products and services are no longer in great demand. The larger they are the louder the sound of good riddance should be heard. Such shouting might even stimulate voters to put those politicians who supported this bill and others like it on unemployment, in my humble opinion.

    Source: Dayton Daily News, April 8, 2009