COLUMBUS – State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP, and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative today filed a first-of-its-kind state constitutional challenge to “Stand Your Ground” legislation passed during the 2020 lame duck legislative session, saying the measure’s backers violated the Ohio Constitution by adding the measure to an unrelated bill and passing the package only an hour later without providing legally mandated opportunities for public notice and debate. Everytown Law, the largest team of litigators working full-time on advancing gun safety in the courts, is representing the plaintiffs, along with the Ohio firm Bloomekatz Law, LLC.
“Our laws protecting the democratic process exist for good reason, and we’ll use all the tools at our disposal to hold accountable those who violate them,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse. “Given the well-founded concerns Ohioans have about this policy, it’s no surprise that its backers could only pass it when they shut the public out of the process. This lawsuit is about making clear that’s unacceptable.”
Filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, the lawsuit asks the court to strike down the “Stand Your Ground” provisions enacted in January as part of amended Senate Bill 175. It alleges that the bill’s backers violated two requirements of the Ohio constitution:
- the three-considerations rule, Ohio Const. Art. II, § 15(C), which requires that all bills be debated and considered three times by both the House and the Senate
- the one-subject rule, Ohio Const. Art. II, § 15(D), which requires that bills passed by the legislature have only one uniting purpose.
As the suit notes, the Ohio legislature had previously considered similar measures, which had generated widespread opposition. The three-considerations and one-subject rules safeguard fair participation in the legislative process and protect against the most egregious abuses of that process.