Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ohio Supreme Court orders Ballot Board to certify health care freedom amendment language

This just in via email (great news!):

For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Supreme Court: Health Care Freedom Amendment to Move Forward

Ohio Supreme Court Orders Ballot Board to Certify Amendment Language

Columbus - The Ohio Supreme Court today unanimously ruled Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board abused their discretion and violated Ohio law in rejecting ballot language for the proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Constitutional Amendment. The ruling is a significant victory for constitutional initiative rights, Ohio's grass-roots liberty movement, and health care freedom in Ohio. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a non-profit constitutional rights advocacy firm, argued the case on behalf of amendment sponsors the Ohio Liberty Council.

The court ordered Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board to immediately certify the language and allow the petitioners to begin collecting signatures to qualify the issue for the November ballot. A copy of the court ruling is available here.

"Today's Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionally-granted rights of citizens to petition their government even when the arbitrary and self-serving decisions of Secretary Brunner and the ballot board attempt to block them," said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson, who also drafted the amendment. "Secretary Brunner and the ballot board tried to use their purely administrative powers to destroy a citizen-initiated amendment with which they disagreed. Thankfully, the court checked this abuse, and Ohioans will have the opportunity to put the preservation of their health care freedom to a vote."

In the decision, the justices wrote, "the ballot board abused its discretion and clearly disregarded R.C. 3505.62." Further, the court upheld the special protections contained in the Ohio Constitution granting citizens the right to petition government.

On April 9, the ballot board rejected the proposed Health Care Freedom Constitutional Amendment. It ordered the Ohio Liberty Council to resubmit the measure as two separate amendments. The ballot board's ruling would have required the group to rewrite its constitutional amendment, and gather two sets of 402,276 signatures for two separate amendments by June 30. However, the 1851 Center argued the amendment addressed only one subject and should move forward as one constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court agreed.

Further, the court wrote, "the ballot board has a clear legal duty to liberally construe the right of initiative, and as long as the citizen-initiated proposed amendment bears some reasonable relationship to a single general object or purpose, the board must certify its approval of the amendment as written without dividing it into multiple petitions."

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 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, voting rights, regulation, taxation, and search and seizures. More on the 1851 Center can be found at


1 comment:

Kadim said...

Huge relief to me, particularly because the precedence it would have set would have been appallingly strict.

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