Ohio Court Rules on Health Care Ballot Issue

The Associated Press 3:01 PM Thursday, April 29, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a proposed amendment by groups seeking to exclude the state from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul should appear as a single issue on the ballot.

The Thursday decision reverses a finding by the Ohio Ballot Board, which had split the issue proposed by the Ohio Liberty Council and others into two separate ballot measures.

The court says the board abused its discretion and disregarded state law and ordered it to certify the proposed amendment.

The Liberty Council tea party group wants voters to approve the Ohio constitutional amendment that would allow the state to opt out of the health care law signed in March.

If supporters get enough petition signatures, the issue would appear on the November ballot.

Read the Ohio Supreme Court decision here. Especially (fore-)telling is paragraph 30:

{¶ 30} In extraordinary actions challenging the decisions of the Secretary of State and boards of elections, for example, the standard is whether they engaged in fraud, corruption, or abuse of discretion or acted in clear disregard of applicable legal provisions. See generally State ex rel. Owens v. Brunner, __Ohio St.3d __, 2010-Ohio-1374, __ N.E.2d __, ¶ 26. This standard is also appropriate for gauging the propriety of the ballot board’s determination here.

Therefore, in the absence of any evidence of fraud or corruption, the dispositive issue is whether the ballot board abused its discretion and clearly disregarded applicable law in determining that relators’ initiative petition contained two proposed constitutional amendments and in dividing the petition into two and in certifying the two proposed amendments to the Attorney General.

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