Ohio lawmakers put forth proposal to disempower the state's supreme court

November 11, 2023

A group of Ohio lawmakers has put forth a proposal that would partially disempower the state's supreme court. 

This comes after state voters approved a ballot measure that would establish in Ohio's constitution the right to have an abortion, among other related things.

Dayton Daily News reports:

Ohio voters on Tuesday approved Issue 1 with 56.6% of the vote, putting protections for abortion and other reproductive matters in the state constitution. When it goes into effect next month, this would make numerous laws restricting abortion unconstitutional.

Ohio Republicans believe that Issue 1 is highly problematic.

"Dangerously vague and unconstrained"

The problem that some Ohio Republicans have with Issue 1 is that, in their view, it is too vague, and its vagueness could be used as a legislative weapon by activist judges to get rid of anti-abortion laws.

As state Rep. Bill Dean (R) put it, "Issue 1 doesn’t repeal a single Ohio law, in fact, it doesn’t even mention one. The amendment’s language is dangerously vague and unconstrained, and can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers."

The idea, here, is that the Ohio Supreme Court gets to determine what laws are and are not in line with the state constitution. And, the vague language of Issue 1 can now be used by pro-abortion, activist judges to argue that any anti-abortion law is unconstitutional.

State Democrats are already trying to take advantage of Issue 1's passage. In the past several days, they have put forth a proposal to repeal laws that they claim are made unconstitutional by Issue 1.

Ohio Republicans are now trying to prevent this weaponization of Issue 1. Accordingly, they are looking to make changes to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The proposal

Ohio Republicans are now looking to stop the Ohio Supreme Court from being able to decide any matter that relates to Issue 1.

Republican members of Ohio's House of Representatives have released a statement on the matter.

"To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative," the statement reads.

It continues, "The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides."

It is unclear how much support there is in Ohio's House for this proposal. It is probably worth noting, though, that Republicans control both the state's House and the state's Supreme Court.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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