October 18, 2010 – Taxpayer Victory: Gahanna Indefinitely Postpones Ill-Advised $375K High-Risk Venture Capital Loan Fund

Gahanna City Council indefinitely postponed a vote authorizing a city-backed $375,000 high-risk venture capital loan fund after the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law threatened legal action against the city.

Gahanna City Council had proposed an ordinance permitting the mayor to contract with the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) for the creation of a venture capital loan fund. The fund would issue high-interest and interest-only loans to local businesses and individuals considered high-risk by conventional lenders.

During a Sept. 7 council meeting, 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson advised city officials against the constitutionally prohibited plan. Thompson informed council members that the Ohio Constitution (Section 6, Article VII) prohibits the city from “raising money for or loaning its credit to any private company, corporation or association.” Further, according to Ohio Supreme Court precedent, this constitutional provision is intended to protect taxpayers from the risks associated with the failure of a private project.

After Thompson’s presentation, council members decided to postpone a vote on the ordinance by two weeks while they review the consequences of the impending legal challenge. Council members’ decision to permanently drop the proposal is a significant victory for Gahanna residents, whose tax dollars will not be put a risk under this ill-conceived proposal.

The venture capital fund would have:

  • Used tax dollars to fund private enterprise;
  • Issued loans to individuals who lack conventional collateral or posed a high risk and may have been turned down by conventional lenders;
  • Issued loans at high interest rates of up to 12 percent; and
  • Allowed loans to be repaid on an interest-only basis.

In addition, the scuttled ordinance would have allowed the city to recover funds from defaulted loans by seizing an individual’s personal property, including “vehicles, personal items, antiques, collectibles jewelry, or livestock.”

September 14, 2011 – Ohio Supreme Court Protects Property Rights

The court held that the State of Ohio extends to the natural shoreline, which is “the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes.” The court reiterated its role as a protector of private property rights against state incursions and reminded the state that private property rights are expressly protected in the Ohio Constitution.

October 1, 2010 – The Ohio AG’s Land-Grab on the Lake

The 1851 Center filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Ohio to stop Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray’s redefinition of property rights along Lake Erie.

The AG and several left-wing environmental interest groups now claim that because the State of Ohio owns the waters of Lake Erie, it also owns the beaches of Lake Erie. However, property owners along the lake have deeds that demonstrate their ownership, have paid taxes on the land for years, and were previously told (by the state) that they owned the land. The state is proceeding under the “Public Trust Doctrine,” which says it owns navigable waters and wild animals in Ohio. This is the first time Ohio’s politicians have attempted to extend the doctrine to dry land.

Both state and federal courts have supported the residents’ legal position. However, Attorney General Cordray has appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Ohio, despite being told by lower courts that he lacks standing to pursue the matter, since he has no client in the case.

“Ohioans have a constitutional right to acquire, possess, use and dispose of their private property in a way that does not harm others. Lake Erie property owners have owned this land since Ohio became a state. Only now, with dollar signs in its eyes, does the political class claim that it has always owned the property, and that lakefront owners must actually lease it back from the state,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson said in the court filing.


June 3, 2011 – Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Supreme Court should rule soon on Lake Erie private v. public shoreline battle

September 23, 2010 – Maurice Thompson discusses the case on the Fred LeFebvre Show – WSPD AM 1370

September 20, 2010 1851 Center’s Amicus Brief

1851 Center Wins Injunction Against Andover Township Officials Who Blocked Constitution Day Rally

(COLUMBUS) Wednesday a federal court granted the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law a temporary injunction against Andover Township in Ashtabula County. The ruling is a victory for Andover Township residents who were previously blocked by township officials from celebrating Constitutional Day (Sept. 17) with a rally at a public park. Read more

The First Amendment clearly protects the right to gather on the public square, speak out in support of limited constitutional government, and critique the current state of affairs. The government’s action in this case, ironically, demonstrates the need for greater public understanding of Constitutional rights. One way to do that is through commemoration of Constitution Day.

September 10, 2010 – 1851 Center Files Federal Court Action to Defend First Amendment Rights

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today filed a complaint and temporary restraining order against Andover Township (Ashtabula County) in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. The complaint charges that township trustees’ actions blocking a Constitution Day (Sept. 17) rally on Andover Public Square, by local residents, violated the First Amendment. The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.

Township officials informed the residents that speech at the Constitution Day rally could be of a “political nature,” and thus inappropriate for the public square.

The decision to deny access to the park was made in accordance with a township resolution allowing officials to determine public space usage “on a case by case basis,” and to ban speech that they deem too “political.” However, the park in question is a common gathering point for public events that often have far more political overtones. Officials made no inquiry as to the size of the rally, or other pertinent logistical concerns.

September 15, 2010: 1851 Center Wins Injunction Against Andover Township Officials Who Blocked Constitution Day Rally

A federal court granted the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law a temporary injunction against Andover Township in Ashtabula County. The ruling is a victory for Andover Township residents who were previously blocked by township officials from celebrating Constitutional Day (Sept. 17) with a rally at a public park.

The order was issued by Judge Donald C. Nugent.

The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.



Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
Memo in support of Temporary Restraining Order
Andover Township letter to residents blocking the rally
Judge Nugent’s Order

Back in March, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced that Ohio would not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the federal healthcare law) because the suits did not “have any legal merit whatsoever.” He based his decision, in part, on his expansive reading of the Commerce Clause.   Read more

According to a March 2010 press release issued by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, our state will not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the official name of the federal health care law) because the suits do not have “any legal merit whatsoever.” Read more

770 West Broad AGA, a private contractor, entered into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Commerce to provide work space for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Under the lease terms, AGA made several improvements to the property at its own expense. Upon completion, the state fined the company over $500,000, alleging prevailing wage laws were violated. AGA refused to pay the fine and filed a court action claiming that prevailing wage did not apply, and that the state’s prevailing wage law violates the Ohio Constitution.

May 4, 2010 – 1851 Center Files Amicus Brief in Ohio Prevailing Wage Law Case

Ohio’s current prevailing wage law is, in part, unconstitutional, the 1851 Center argues in an amicus brief filed in the Tenth District Court of Appeals, Franklin County. The case, Ohio Department of Commerce v. 770 West Broad AGA, LLC, exposes fundamental flaws in the current prevailing wage law.

“Ohio’s prevailing wage law is deeply flawed and unconstitutional because it gives labor unions the legislative power to establish the prevailing wage,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Additionally, the law does not provide an intelligible principle for determining the prevailing wage, and it fails to provide a procedure for effective review. Essentially, it allows labor unions to set the wages of non-union workers, without any input from those workers themselves, much less the Department of Commerce or the Ohio legislature.”

While AGA won its case at the trial level, the appellate court reversed.  Notably, both courts declined to address the constitutional issues. The Ohio Supreme Court refused to review the case.

May 3, 2010: Appellate Court Amicus Brief

April 11, 2011: Ohio Supreme Court Amicus Brief

On Thursday, April 15, 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson addressed a crowd of over 3,000 activists at the Columbus Tea Party’s Tax Day Rally.  He urged them to stand up to paternalistic – we know best – government.  Thompson believes taxpayers should be leery of the state and federal government’s continued path toward collectivist policies.


Listen to his speech.

On March 22, 2010, the Ohio Liberty Council began the process of the placing a health care freedom constitutional amendment on the November 2010 ballot.

The group filed petition summary language and nearly 3,000 signatures from registered voters in 48 counties with the Ohio Attorney General, who later approved the language as truthful and accurate.

The amendment provides that:

  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system;
  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance; and
  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.

The Ohio Liberty Council is a statewide coalition of non-partisan grass roots groups in Ohio including: Central Ohio 9/12 Project, Cincinnati Tea Party, Young Americans for Liberty, Dayton Tea Party, Ohio Freedom Alliance and many more grass roots organizations. By working together, the member groups of the Ohio Liberty Council seek to achieve real results to protect and promote liberty in Ohio. More on the Ohio Liberty Council can be found at http://www.ohiolibertycouncil.org.

On April 9, 2010, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board ruled the proposed constitutional amendment should be split into two parts.

As a result, the board rejected the proposed amendment and told its sponsor, the Ohio Liberty Council, to start over.

The move placed the Ohio Liberty Council in the untenable position of restarting the amendment language approval process and collecting two sets of 402,275 signatures by June 30. The group asked the Ohio Supreme Court to block the Ballot Board’s action. “The Ohio Ballot Board got it wrong today,” said Warren Edstrom of the Ohio Liberty Council, “We will ask the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold our amendment language and correct this error.”

On April 14, 2010 the 1851 Center Filed an Ohio Supreme Court Complaint Against the Ballot Board.

In the writ of mandamus filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, the 1851 Center asserted the Ballot Board’s actions were arbitrary and ran counter to the board’s own past precedent. The complaint contended the Ohio Liberty Council’s proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment addressed only one subject and should move forward as one constitutional amendment. Further, the Ballot Board’s ruling “effectively eviscerates the Ohio Liberty Council’s objective, and threatens to eviscerate access to the November, 2010 ballot,” the 1851 Center wrote in the complaint.

“We ask the court to review and correct the Ohio Ballot Board’s improper decision,” said Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center. “Our complaint rightfully attacks the constitutional authority of this unelected body to use its power to perform purely administrative tasks to destroy proposed constitutional amendments with which it disagrees. It does not have the constitutional authority to interfere with the Initiative rights articulated in Section 1, Article II of the Ohio Constitution.”

On April 29, 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court Ordered the Ballot Board to Certify the Amendment Language.

The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board abused their discretion and violated Ohio law in rejecting ballot language for the proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Constitutional Amendment. The court ordered Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board to immediately certify the language and allow the petitioners to begin collecting signatures to qualify the issue for the November ballot. A copy of the court ruling is available here.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionally-granted rights of citizens to petition their government even when the arbitrary and self-serving decisions of Secretary Brunner and the ballot board attempt to block them,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson, who also drafted the amendment. “Secretary Brunner and the ballot board tried to use their purely administrative powers to destroy a citizen-initiated amendment with which they disagreed. Thankfully, the court checked this abuse, and Ohioans will have the opportunity to put the preservation of their health care freedom to a vote.”

In the decision, the justices wrote, “the ballot board abused its discretion and clearly disregarded R.C. 3505.62.” Further, the court upheld the special protections contained in the Ohio Constitution granting citizens the right to petition government.

Further, the court wrote, “the ballot board has a clear legal duty to liberally construe the right of initiative, and as long as the citizen-initiated proposed amendment bears some reasonable relationship to a single general object or purpose, the board must certify its approval of the amendment as written without dividing it into multiple petitions.”

April 13, 2010: 1851 Center’s Complaint

April 20, 2010: 1851 Center’s Merit Brief

April 22, 2010: Motion in Opposition of Extension

1851 Center for Constitutional Law Executive Director Maurice Thompson and 610 WTVN’s Bob Conners discuss the Ohio Liberty Council’s effort to block new federal health care mandates through a constitutional amendment. The amendment language was drafted by the 1851 Center.  Thompson and Conners believe government’s role should be limited, especially in matters of individual health care coverage. The interview took place on Friday, April 2, 2010, after the Ohio attorney general approved the amendment language.

Listen to the interview:


Read more about the constitutional amendment here.