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Pandemic unemployment checks case dismissed by Ohio Supreme Court

This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.
Mike Groll
Associated Press

The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed a case over whether Gov. Mike DeWine had the power to cut off $300 weekly checks to unemployed Ohioans last summer, three months before the federal program that funded those pandemic assistance checks ended. But the attorney who argued for those payments said the case will continue.

In a single-sentence ruling, the court unanimously dismissed as moot the request for an immediate order to pay as many as 300,000 unemployed Ohioans $300 a week from June 2021 through Labor Day last year, when the federal program ended. Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann filed for the payments, and said this doesn’t mean the case is over.

“Although there will not be an immediate order to pay benefits, our two cases that have now been consolidated before (Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge (Michael) Holbrook and a third case that's now pending in the Ohio Court of Claims are very much alive,” he said.

Dann maintains DeWine didn’t have the authority to turn down the benefits, and this decision doesn’t speak to that. A spokesperson for current Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the case is over and it’s a victory for the state.

However, Dann said the federal funds are still available, and he’ll be filing paperwork in the next month to keep the case alive.

“Whether the governor decides to access those funds or not, we still believe that the governor was acting outside of his legal authority, and that those Ohioans who were denied the benefits are entitled to them, whether from the state or whether the state's indemnified by the federal government. And we intend to aggressively appeal the underlying case,” Dann said.

The Ohio Supreme Court heard the case in May 2021. The Ohio Attorney General’s office said businesses were having trouble hiring workers and asked DeWine to stop the checks, which were funded with COVID relief money from the federal CARES Act.