© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ohio Supreme Court to decide the legality of August election

Ohio Supreme Court chambers.
Dan Konik
Ohio Public Radio

Ohio lawmakers are seeking to hold an August election to ask voters whether to make it harder to change the state constitution. Now, the Ohio Supreme Court will weigh in.

On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss legal wrangling over this issue.

A Hotly Contested August Election

The legality of an August election to ask Ohio voters if they want to make it harder to change the state constitution is currently before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives joined the Senate in setting an August 8 election to decide a proposed amendment that would require a 60% majority to pass future amendments. The amendment would also double the number of counties from which petition gatherers need to collect signatures.

Opponents of the move immediately went to court, arguing that lawmakers cannot use a joint resolution to schedule an election that is not allowed under state law. The law that went into effect in April allows an August special election when a local jurisdiction or school district is under fiscal emergency.

Legal experts disagree on whether the August election is legal. Steven Steinglass, dean emeritus at Cleveland State University College of Law, believes that the Legislature cannot use a joint resolution to schedule an election that is not allowed under state law. He cites an 1897 Ohio Supreme Court decision that states that statute law cannot be repealed or amended by a joint resolution.

Frank Strigari, former chief legal counsel for the Ohio Senate, argues that the August election is legal. He points to a 1912 change to the state constitution that allows the General Assembly to set a date for a special election for proposed constitutional amendments. He argues that this change trumps the 1897 decision.

The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of the August election in the coming weeks. If the court rules that the election is illegal, it will be up to the Legislature to decide whether to hold a special election at a later date.

The proposed amendment is being pushed by Republicans who are concerned about the possibility of a November ballot question that would enshrine abortion rights in the Ohio constitution. If the amendment passes, it would make it much more difficult for any future ballot question to change the state constitution.

Snollygoster of the week

If you know the name Joe Manchin, it could be because he’s such a key vote in the U.S. Senate. The West Virginian is technically a Democrat, but he parts ways with the establishment on some issues, including energy.

The senator from the coal-rich state eventually broke down and supported President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which included hundreds of billions of dollars for climate and energy programs. But he apparently doesn’t like it anymore.

Manchin went on Fox News last month and said “I will vote to repeal my own bill.”

He’s joining Republicans in the fight to drop some of the law’s environmental program in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

If you have a suggestion for our "Snollygoster of the Week" award, a question or a comment, send them to snollygoster@wosu.org.