COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost again rejected a petition Friday to put a qualified immunity constitutional amendment on ballots, the sixth time in two years a version of the petitioners’ proposal has been denied, Yost said in a news release.
The proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution would have asked Ohioans whether they want to overturn qualified immunity — a legal term for protections that exist for state workers, such as police officers and prosecutors, from civil lawsuits.
Yost nixed the petition summary, calling it misleading in a letter to the petitioners.
“We identified omissions and misstatements that, as a whole, would mislead a potential signer as to the actual scope and effect of the proposed amendment,” he wrote.
The Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunity filed its initial petition Thursday, which is the first hurdle to getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
“We have government not being held to account, because it does have the qualified immunity and that degrades public trust,” coalition executive director Kyle Pierce told NBC4 in an earlier interview.
That filing came days after Issue 1’s defeat. The proposal would have made it more difficult for Ohioans to amend the state constitution, raising the threshold from a simple majority to a 60% supermajority and enacting stricter signature requirements for constitutional amendments proposed by citizens.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who took a big part in the campaign for Issue 1, told NBC4 the proposal to end qualified immunity was more reason to make constitutional amendments more difficult to propose and pass.
“The big ‘for sale’ sign still hangs on our state constitution,” LaRose said. “The left wants to try and turn Ohio into California; I don’t think Ohioans want to see their brave law enforcement officers subjected to that sort of thing.”
The coalition denounced Yost’s decision, Pierce wrote in a statement Friday.
“The AG’s rejection is built on legally unsound and flawed interpretations, clearly misrepresenting our intentions and the established law,” he said.
As for the issue itself, the coalition will decide soon what’s next, he said.