In what’s become a predictable fall tradition, two more Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) anti-fracking “Bill of Rights” initiatives met their rightful ends at the hands of Ohio’s Supreme Court, as the high court recently issued decisions to uphold the rulings of the Franklin County and Lucas County boards of election to keep the measures off the November ballot.
Earlier this month, the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE) rejected the certification of the “Community Bill of Rights for Water, Soil and Air Protection” after correctly determining the scope of the measure would exceed local authority to implement. CELDF and its cohorts requested the court allow for the initiative to remain on the ballot, but by a 6-1 majority the Supreme Court justices agreed with the BOE:
“… We deny the writ and hold that the board members did not abuse their discretion in finding that the proposed ballot measure is beyond the scope of Columbus’ legislative power.”
As the Columbus Dispatch highlighted following the court’s ruling, the majority recognized in its opinion that the city of Columbus lacks the ability to enact measures that supersede Ohio state law:
“Because Columbus clearly lacks the power to enact the proposed ordinance, we hold that the board members did not abuse their discretion in keeping relators’ proposal off the ballot.”
In a nearly identical scenario, “Toledoans for Safe Water” filed a lawsuit against the Lucas County BOE in an attempt to force the board to place the issue on the ballot after its initial rejection on the same grounds. The Supreme Court rejected the request last week after the group “failed to show the elections board abused discretion or disregarded the law by rejecting their petition,” according to the Toledo Blade.
In a statement provided to the Blade, assistant county prosecutor Kevin Pituch – who represented the BOE – indicated the decision was based on the same merits as the Columbus judgement:
“The Court recognized that the Board of Elections followed the law when it denied ballot access to the Lake Erie Bill of Rights charter amendment, because, by creating a new cause of action for the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, the proposed amendment exceeded the authority possessed by the City of Toledo or its citizens.”
While the courts were again able to beat voters to the punch in eliminating the Toledo and Columbus efforts, Youngstown voters still have to wait more than a month to reject CELDF’s blockheaded eighth attempt to pass a measure voters have clearly articulated they have no interest in passing.
Worse still – in the face of what will be the 33rd defeat for the group in the state – the Youngstown activists are already embracing the idea of adding to the streak in future elections.