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Group behind qualified immunity amendment sues Ohio Attorney General over latest rejection

Attorney General Dave Yost speaks to reporters at a press conference in February 2020.
Karen Kasler

The group that’s tried eight times to get Ohio attorney general Dave Yost to approve language for a constitutional amendment to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers and other government employees is suing over the AG’s latest rejection.

The Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunity wants voters to approve an amendment called "Protecting Ohioans Constitutional Rights", to allow lawsuits for money damages when constitutional rights are violated, including suits against law enforcement. The group has filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court claiming Yost is illegally blocking their amendment from getting to the ballot.

On Thursday afternoon, the court ordered Yost to file a response by Monday, and that there would be no time extensions.

Capital University law professor Mark Brown represents the group. He had written to Yost on Monday, saying Yost's rejection includes a false and defamatory statement.

“He basically, in his rejection letter, in bold-faced type said, ‘I've told you this before and you didn't listen to me’, which is false," Brown said. "It makes us look like basically a bunch of idiots, which we're not."

Brown said he began representing the group last fall. The coalition had already filed six similar proposals with the attorney general's office since May 2021.

"When I submitted my draft in November, General Yost was good enough to make oh, at least a dozen suggestions—not suggestions, but reasons for rejecting it," Brown added "And then I carefully implemented every one of those and we resubmitted in March. And he says that we didn't follow his instructions and then he came up with four new reasons."

Brown also said Yost has no authority to review the amendment’s title, which is one of the reasons for the rejection. A coalition that's trying to put forward a constitutional amendment changing and repealing some voting and elections laws has also sued Yost for rejecting their petition language based on its title, the "Ohio Voter Bill of Rights."

The AG’s office wrote a short response to the letter: "Attorney General Yost properly rejected the Petitioners’ submission in accordance with the deadline set forth in Ohio Revised Code Section 3519.01. The Petitioners may seek judicial review with the Ohio Supreme Court if they believe that the decision is not in accordance with Ohio law."

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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