Will Kent Citizens Empower their Law Director to Veto Proposed Initiatives Prior to the People’s Vote? No!
The City of Kent law director James Silver proposes a 2015 Charter Amendment that would give him the authority to veto proposed citizens’ initiatives before they are placed on the ballot for a vote by the people. Under this amendment, the law director would determine whether a proposed initiative is blocked from the ballot for being “contrary to or in violation of the Constitution, laws or common law of the United States of America and/or the state of Ohio.”
Such an amendment would position the City’s Law Director as a local Supreme Court of one, with the power to veto peoples’ initiatives as unconstitutional. This is no less than stripping Kent residents of their right to local self-governance, rendering them powerless to challenge and change unjust laws passed by others.
The courts have already weighed in that challenges to initiatives appearing on the ballot are premature because they are not yet law, and advisory decisions on their constitutionality or legality would deprive the people of their initiative rights. Allowing the law director to filter proposed initiatives based on his or her own determination as to what is “contrary,” would also deprive the petitioners, and the whole community, of the right to due process of the law. Therefore, it is the law director’s proposed amendment that is on its face unconstitutional.
The Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) is committed to helping residents across the state of Ohio to expand their right to local self-governance. We support the people of Kent to protect their inalienable right to local, democratic decision-making, and will stand with them as they protect themselves from undemocratic and unconstitutional attempts to usurp their authority.
OHCRN is establishing a network of communities working to advance, secure and protect the inalienable rights of all Ohioans to democratic, local self -governance, to sustainable food, energy and economic systems, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish throughout Ohio. For more information, contact us at ABC.