Ohio Supreme Court Upholds the Right of the People of Youngstown to Vote on a Citizens’ Initiative

Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Placed on November ballot


September 19, 2015

Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
tish@celdf.org, 440-838-5272

COLUMBUS, OH: Yesterday, the people of Youngstown’s constitutional right to vote on a local Bill of Rights charter amendment initiative was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the Mahoning County Board of Elections did not have the authority to keep the citizen-sponsored initiative off the ballot.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) filed a lawsuit against the Board of Elections, as did the City of Youngstown, seeking to restore the initiative to the November ballot.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision ruled that Boards of Elections “do not have authority to sit as arbiters of the legality or constitutionality of a ballot measure’s substantive terms.” In addition, the court claimed that “the board exceeded its statutory authority and therefore abused its discretion.”

CELDF community organizer Tish O’Dell stated, “The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled for the second time in a week, on behalf of the people, safeguarding their inalienable right to advance and vote on their own initiatives. The Court affirmed that government cannot interfere with the democratic rights of citizens to initiative.”

O’Dell added, “The people of Youngstown continue to fight for their right to protect their water and their environment in spite of tremendous opposition from industry and special interest groups.”

The people of Ohio, assisted by CELDF and the Ohio Community Rights Network, continue to fight for their inalienable right to local self-government and the right to protect their health, safety and welfare, and are prepared to amend the state constitution to protect these rights.

Through grassroots organizing and the practice of public interest law, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund works with communities across the country to establish Community Rights to democratic, local self-governance and sustainability. CELDF has assisted nearly 200 communities to ban shale gas drilling and fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other threats, and eliminate corporate “rights” when they violate community and nature’s rights. 


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