Ohio: “Organizers sue Yost over rejection of ballot proposal that would abolish qualified immunity”


Citizens behind an effort to abolish “qualified immunity” – a legal doctrine that can shield police from liability amid accusations of excessive use of force – are suing Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, alleging he’s illegally blocking them from moving toward placing the issue on the ballot.

Since February 2023, backers of the “Protecting Ohioans’ Constitutional Rights” initiative have submitted their proposed state constitutional amendment and summary language five times to Yost’s office. Yost, who’s only tasked to ensure the summary language accurately describes the amendment, has rejected their filings every time, most recently on March 14.

Irritated with what they say are baseless denials, they asked the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday to force Yost to grant their petition, which they say truthfully and accurately represents the constitutional amendment they’re proposing. The litany of “incorrect and unfounded” objections Yost raised “suggests there are no circumstances under which” he will fulfill his legal duty. Rather, they argue, he’s trying to stall them by running out a clock– such amendments require submission of hundreds of thousands of valid signatures by July 3 to make the November ballot.

Their lawsuit lists a series of technical and legalistic edits they made to hew to Yost’s objections, an editing process that proved fruitless.

“We did everything he told us to do, and then he came up with four new ones,” said Mark Brown, a professor of constitutional law at Capital University who’s representing the organizers, in an interview. “We just got fed up.”

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