Friday, June 19, 2009

Manna Storehouse Update

I have not reported on Manna Storehouse since the beginning of the year. That was the case (formally known as Stowers v. Ohio Department of Agriculture) in which a food co-operative in rural Lorain County was subjected to a SWAT-style raid in December 2008. The Stowers family is being defended by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

I had the privilege of hearing the 1851 Center’s director, Maurice A. Thompson, discuss the work of the Center Wednesday evening. I asked him about the status of Manna Storehouse. About four months ago, the defendants, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Lorain County Sheriff, filed a motion to take the case to the U.S. District Court of Appeals. The purpose of making it a Federal case is that Article I of the Ohio Constitution contains more stringent guarantees of personal liberties than does the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Thompson anticipates that the Federal Court will return the issue to the State courts, but the Federal courts work slowly, and it may be two or three months before it is returned to an Ohio court.

There is case law to support such a return:

“… [A] State court is entirely free to read its own State’s constitution more broadly than this [the U.S. Supreme] Court reads the Federal Constitution, or to reject the mode of analysis used by this Court in favor of a different analysis of its corresponding constitutional guarantee.” (City of Mesquite v. Aladdin’s Castle, Inc. [1982] 455 U.S. 283, 293; 102 S.Ct. 1070, 1077; 71 L.Ed.2d 152, 162).

Also, “Individual States may surely construe their own constitutions as more stringent constraints on police powers than does the Federal Constitution.” (California v. Greenwood [1988], 486 U.S. 35, 43; 108 S.Ct. 1625, 1630; 100 L.Ed.2d 30, 39). These two citations are from Maurice A. Thompson, Defending Liberty in Ohio: A Roadmap for Protecting Freedom and Limiting Government with the State Constitution (Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, 2009). This document is not yet available online, but another document on the protections of the Ohio Constitution, Presuming Liberty, can be downloaded as a .pdf file.

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