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OSBA officials urge no vote on Issue No. 2

10/25/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

This November, Ohioans will be voting on Issue No. 2, a proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting. [We] join the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), the Ohio Judicial Conference and a host of organizations and media outlets in urging people to vote no on Issue No. 2. For us, there is a singular reason: Issue No. 2 inappropriately involves Ohio’s judiciary in the most high-stakes political process there is — redistricting.

Why is Issue No. 2 the wrong solution?

Issue No. 2 would require a group of appellate judges to select a pool of 42 Ohioans from which a 12-member citizen commission responsible for redrawing legislative and congressional district maps would be drawn. This function makes these judges more vulnerable to political influence and undermines the public’s trust and confidence in a fair, impartial and independent judiciary — a sacred and fundamental principle of our constitutional democracy. 

Issue No. 2 would inappropriately involve the Ohio Supreme Court. Should the 12-member commission be unable to agree on a redistricting proposal, our highest court could be responsible for selecting one of the plans this commission has debated. And if the plan is later challenged, it will be heard in the Supreme Court, the same Supreme Court that selected the very proposal being challenged. The court’s job is not to pick the plan, but to interpret the law and rule on its constitutionality.

Issue No. 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment, and constitutional amendments are difficult to change. They can only be changed by another constitutional amendment. This requires a great deal of time and money and could take years to accomplish. That’s why it is so important to get the language of a constitutional amendment right.

Many agree that the current redistricting process is [in] need of reform. So do we! But, there is a better way than Issue No. 2. The OSBA believes that the appropriate venue is the Constitutional Modernization Commission. This commission is made up of bi-partisan elected officials and members of the public with the sole purpose being to review our current state Constitution and make recommendations for change. [We] join the OSBA in urging the commission to make redistricting reform a priority initiative when it convenes early next year.

The judiciary was never intended to be involved in a political process like redistricting. The judiciary is intended to be fair, impartial and independent, and to interpret the laws and Constitution. Their job is to be the umpire, not the player on the field. Let’s keep it that way.

Issue No. 2 is the wrong way to improve Ohio’s redistricting plan. It should be defeated so the people of Ohio have the time to get it right. Vote no on Issue No. 2, and protect justice.

To learn more about why we need to Protect Justice, please visit www.protectjusticeohio.com.

Ronald Kopp, of Roetzel and Andress, District 11 representative on OSBA Board of Governors; and Carmen Roberto, of Bernlohr, Niekamp and Weisensell, immediate past president of OSBA Board of Governors

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