by J.D. Davidson
Two state lawmakers, the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed a lawsuit Thursday that challenges the state’s recently passed Stand Your Ground law, claiming Republican legislators violated the state constitution.
The lawsuit claims GOP lawmakers added the measure to an unrelated bill and passed it an hour later without providing public notice or debate. Everytown Law, an organization with a New York City mailing address that litigates gun safety issues, is representing the four plantiffs, along with the Ohio law firm Bloomekatz Law.
“Our laws protecting the democratic process exist for good reason, and we’ll use the tools at our disposal to hold accountable those who violate them,” state Rep. Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, said Thursday during a news conference. “Given the well-founded concerns Ohioans have about this policy, it’s no surprise that its backers could only pass it when they shut the public out of the process. This lawsuit is about making clear that’s unacceptable.”
The attorney general’s office is reviewing the lawsuit, said Steven Irwin, spokesperson for Attorney General Dave Yost.
The lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, asks the court to strike down the law, which was part of an amended Senate Bill 175. The lawsuit claims supporters violated the Ohio Constitution, which requires bills to be debated and considered three times in the House and Senate and to have only one uniting purpose.
The law went into effect in April after passing the General Assembly in December and being signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in January.
The law removed any responsibility for someone to try to retreat before using deadly force to protect themselves and broaden places where using deadly force is legal to a place a resident has a lawful right to be. It does not, however, change the standard for using deadly force.
Proponents said the changes were necessary to protect churches and other organizations and to reaffirm constitutional rights. Opponents called the legislation dangerous.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is a regional editor for The Center Square.