Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ohio for Ohioans Amendment: Good idea, but needs work

Yesterday, I introduced the proposed "Ohio for Ohioans" Amendment to the Ohio Constitution to provide a means to effectively enforce nullification of federal statutes in violation of the U.S. Constitution and state statutes in violation of the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions.

This proposal presents several constitutional and legal problems.  Foremost among them is its rather gross violation of the separation of powers principle. The proposed amendment allows the Governor and Attorney General to "collectively" form a Constitutional Review Committee to "compel" the Supreme Court to rule on legislation deemed unconstitutional within 30 days (of what?). It also allows the Governor and Attorney General to "compel" the Ohio General Assembly to invoke impeachment proceedings against public officials who violate their oaths of office. These provisions suggest that their author is not well educated in constitutional law; because one of its most fundamental principles is that the Executive (Governor and statewide elected officials), the General Assembly, and the courts cannot "compel" each other to do anything. The General Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings on its own volition. The Ohio Supreme Court rules on cases that originate in Ohio's trial courts.

Another example of sloppy legal language lies in the statement that
All Ohio Citizens shall have legal standing in all Ohio courts and jurisdictions to challenge the constitutionality of any Ohio law, federal Law, and all government imposed rules, regulations, and mandates that directly affect them on the behalf of all Ohio Citizens.
No. The existing legal procedure is established to maintain an orderly process. This paragraph should omit "in all Ohio courts and jurisdictions."  To apply this clause as stated would make mincemeat of the Ohio judicial system. The amendment should enable all Ohio citizens to challenge constitutionality by filing suit in the county Court of Common Pleas or in a special state trial court established for this purpose. Even so, who will be the trial lawyer to defend the federal government? I cannot imagine any federal attorney deigning to follow a state procedure in what the feds are sure to consider a gross violation of the Supremacy Clause.

I would favor a well-written amendment to assert Ohio's sovereignty, and this one comes closer; but it needs the hand of an attorney who is skilled in constitutional law.

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