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Former U.S. Attorney Graves Co-writes Successful Amicus Brief for Ohio Petition Circulators Case

March 6th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

Term limits and petition reform activist Paul Jacob sent this update email to his supporters today. Jacob, a member of the so called “Oklahoma three” was arrested and charged late last year with the heinous crime of petitioning the Oklahoma state government.

A similar measure in Missouri (HB 1407) is being sponsored by Cole County Republican Bill Deeken.

The bill reads in part:

“Requires all petition circulators to be registered voters, residents of Missouri, and citizens of the United States and prohibits payment of petition circulators on a per-signature basis”

According to the email, the Federal 6th Circuit Court of appeals affirmed a lower courts ruling that said it was permissible to pay petition circulators. Former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves co-wrote an amicus brief which supported the lower courts ruling.

 

Friends,

 

 

Great news yesterday from the Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three judge panel affirmed an Ohio district court ruling striking down that state’s ban on per-signature payments to people circulating petitions. The case is Citizens for Tax Reform v. Deters.

 

Cincinnati attorney David Langdon did an excellent job briefing and arguing this case. Our side was further bolstered by the amicus brief written by attorneys Todd Graves and Eddie Greim on behalf of Citizens in Charge Foundation, and joined by the Initiative & Referendum Institute.

 

The ruling comes at a critical time. Missouri’s House just passed a similar ban and that bill is now before the Senate. Legislators in Massachusetts are also considering a ban. Last month, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature passed a ban, along with a new residency requirement, which will go into effect in August.

 

The court distinguished Ohio’s ban as more severe than those litigated in other states. Yet, in a footnote the court said that it might still overturn those other less severe bans as well, depending on the facts presented in each specific case. The court’s argument shows the need for these First Amendment petitioning cases to go to a full trial with ample evidence provided as to the severe burden placed on speech rights. Less aggressive lawsuits in the 1st, 8th and 9th circuits have left signature bans in place.

 

While there is now a circuit split on this issue, and the State of Ohio has said it will seek Supreme Court review, most observers feel these other cases lack the kind of clear record that would cause the High Court to take the case. Still, either this 6th Circuit case or another – citizens in Nebraska and Oregon are considering challenges – is likely to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few years.

 

Here from Ballotpedia is more information about this case.

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