Appeals Court rules against Ohio petition restrictions

Read case here.

Here is a quote from the 6th Dirstict Court of Appeals:

“The State of Ohio enacted a provision making it a felony to pay anyone for gathering signatures on election-related petitions on any basis other than the time worked. It did so for the sensible purpose of reducing fraudulent signatures. The provision, however, runs afoul of the First Amendment because it creates a significant burden on a core political speech right that is not narrowly tailored. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment against the State.”

This is a huge victory for petition rights.

  • cc

    There IS a God!

    My, is the OEA going to be upset.


  • Steve Plunk

    The question for the attorneys out there is whether or not this will bind Oregon or will it have to go to the US Supreme Court?

  • Jerry

    Jason – thanks for sharing the good news. I only hope it will bind Oregon, too.

    The Salem politicos have been playing fast and loose in their efforts to derail citizen involvement in government and they need to be stopped dead in their tracks.

  • cc

    I’m not a lawyer, but I believe that, although this 6th Circuit decision does not *directly* bind Oregon, it is very clear case law. When (not if) this decision is appealed, I’d be amazed if the Supremes will refuse to hear it and extremely amazed if they reversed it.

  • John Fairplay

    Yes, it will initially only apply to the 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction. However, the Constitution normally applies to all states, so eventually all the restrictions the Legislature and Bradbury have set up will be knocked over.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Well knock me over with a feather, what a stunning decision. OK, so let me get this right, laws banning paid signature gatherers are unconstitutional, at least in the 6th circuit. Well, hard to disagree with that ruling.

    How then did the Supremes manage to uphold McCain-Feingold with its equally, or perhaps more, severe restrictions on first amendment rights?

    Hmm, me thinks that should this find its way to the Supremes ( and you can bet Oregon will take it that far if another state wont ) a voiding of this decision is in the cards.

    • dean

      Rupert…I think paying them is not the question. I believe it is the piece work (by the signature) part of it that Oregon prohibits, and that apparently the 6th District decided against.

  • davidg

    After reading the decision (from the link) I don’t think this decision will have any impact in Oregon. Oregon is in the Ninth Circuit which has already given its ok to the Oregon prohibition. The Sixth Circuit opinion reviewed the earlier Ninth Circuit opinion and analyzed it as being correctly decided. The Sixth Circuit said the Ohio statute was more restrictive than Oregon, and that was why it struck down the Ohio statute. (Oregon allows bonus payments not based on number of signatures; it also allows imposing minimum signature requirements on the collectors. Ohio’s statute didn’t allow those options.)

    Ohio could simply redraft its statute like Oregon. That is the most likely outcome from this. I doubt this new decision will change things in Oregon.

  • Coyote

    As I discussed over on NWRepublican (, this decision WILL have an impact on Oregon.

    davidg, the Ohio ruling relied on a lot of information that came from Oregon. Oregon initiative activists provided some back up information about the undue burden that has been placed on those participating in the initiative process.

    Also the 9th Circuit opinion actually left a door open for initiative activists to come back and revisit the issue. So while they decided in favor of M26 at the time they also said that the issue is not closed. A lot of new evidence regarding the freedom of speech issue has since come to light since the 9th CC rendered their decision. And as I mentioned on my blog there is about to be another legal challenge filed in Federal Court on the M26 issue and the folks on the initiative side have said that this decision helps them.

    Further the Ohio court, as you say, did hint that the state of Ohio could rewrite their statutes but it ALSO said that there was no garauntee that it would be safe.