The first matter of importance regarding the election now in process is the empowerment of Ohio voters. Therefore, we begin this statement and will close it presenting iVoters.com™. This non-partisan site gives both sides of the three ballot issues. It is a balanced presentation designed to provide the facts so that people can make up their own minds on these three constitutional amendments.
As for the analysis of the research team, staff and Board of the Roundtable our considered opinion is that Ohioans, to protect their civil liberties and the rule of law should vote NO on all three ballot issues. The rationale behind this vote NO recommendation flows from a long involvement with the history and practice of the citizen initiative and referendum. The Roundtable is one of the only organizations to ever successfully lead three citizen initiatives all the way to the ballot and have Ohio voters overwhelmingly support those measures. Similarly, the Roundtable has been involved in many statewide ballot issues, including constitutional amendments, initiated statutes and referenda all the way back to 1992.
Currently Ohio is in a state of constitutional crisis regarding the rule of law as it applies to ballot initiatives. This crisis began with the passage of a "limited" casino gambling initiative in the off-election year of 2009. With voter turnout at its lowest level, the casino industry passed an amendment legalizing four casinos in exact and specific locations.
Immediately following his election in 2010, Governor John Kasich entered into a private agreement with the casino owners to re-write the casino constitutional amendment. Had the Governor chosen to take that re-write to the voters of Ohio it would likely have passed. He chose instead to take the "memorandum of understanding" with the casino industry to the Ohio Legislature, which passed the measure. This action in essence rewrote three constitutional amendments passed by Ohioans. It re-wrote the 2009 amendment and expanded gambling facilities from four to eleven sites. It rewrote the 1973 Lottery Amendment by expanding the lottery to include Vegas-style slots gambling, and it overrode the 1987 Amendment requiring all Lottery proceeds go to fund education in Ohio.
Anyone who has ever read the Ohio Constitution knows that the Legislative Branch is prohibited from overriding or overwriting the Constitution by statutory law. Amending the Constitution requires an amendment voted upon by the people. The Kasich Administration defied that law, as did their willing allies in the Legislature.
Furthermore, the Ohio Judicial Branch has refused to date to hold this action accountable to the law. Immediately following the illegal revisions of the state constitution, the Roundtable filed suit to defend the language passed by the voters. After years of waiting, the Ohio Courts, including the Supreme Court has refused to rule on whether citizens have the right to defend their constitution in the state court system. The Court is locked in a battle over whether or not citizens may come to court based on being "harmed enough" by the illegal actions of the Executive and Legislative Branches.
Thus, all three branches of the Ohio government have contributed to creating a constitutional crisis where the exact words of constitutional amendments are subject to radical revision—without a single vote of the people being cast. Note this is NOT a theoretical discussion. Three specific sections of the constitution, all ratified by the people over a period of years, have been radically altered by the Kasich Administration and the Legislature.
With this precedent in practice and the Supreme Court unwilling to defend the rule of law on behalf the citizens of Ohio, it would be sheer foolishness to dare to amend the state constitution in 2015. In this environment of usurpation, there are NO guarantees that a single word that appears in the ballot language of Issues 1, 2 or 3 would be free from further revision by this or future Governors or the Legislature. Furthermore, the citizens currently are shut out of the state courts to defend their constitution from such abuse. Any amendment passed today could become something completely different tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the Ohio news media has largely buried this story. Very few reporters or editorial boards have been willing to invest in the legal and historical research to gain the knowledge of this important legal debate. The facts are a matter of clear record. The crisis is not speculative. It is real, yet the backers of these three issues have ignored the record and the media has remained silent.
Issues 1 and 2 have been presented to the voters by the Ohio Legislature. There is no reason to believe the Legislature will honor the text or meanings of either ballot amendment. With Ohio Issue 3, the marijuana amendment brought by citizen initiative, the same challenge exists. Regardless of a person's opinion on the legalization of marijuana in Ohio, this amendment, which promises to "limit" the growing, sale and use of marijuana in Ohio is binding ONLY as long as the Governor or legislature choose to leave it untouched. Issue 3 bears a strong structural resemblance to the casino amendment of 2009. As such, it can be stripped of its original meaning and reconstructed behind closed doors to fit the purposes of the marijuana industry or the politicians that may benefit from catering to that industry.
Given the current constitutional crisis in Ohio and concern for the rule of constitutional law and civil liberty, the Roundtable is compelled to urge all Ohio voters to protect themselves and their liberties by voting NO on Issues 1, 2 and 3.
In his Farewell Address, George Washington America's first President and the Chairman of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, said this about constitutional revisions: "If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no usurpation: for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
We agree with President Washington and are convinced that his advice is appropriate for all Constitutions, federal and state. We again recommend iVoters.com™ to all Ohio voters to view the exact language of all the proposed state ballot issues as well as the official arguments from both sides. iVoters.com™ is a non-partisan information service provided free of charge by the American Policy Roundtable.