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Ohio court: Wording of pot legalization ballot is misleading
Press Release | 2015/09/15 23:22
Ohio's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that part of the ballot wording describing a proposal to legalize marijuana in the state is misleading and ordered a state board to rewrite it.

Supporters of the measure, known in the fall election as Issue 3, challenged the phrasing of the ballot language and title, arguing certain descriptions were inaccurate and intentionally misleading to voters. Attorneys for the state's elections chief, a vocal opponent of the proposal, had said the nearly 500-word ballot language was fair.

In a split decision, the high court sided with the pot supporters in singling out four paragraphs of the ballot language it said "inaccurately states pertinent information and omits essential information."

The court ordered the state's Ballot Board to reconvene to replace those paragraphs about where and how retail stores can open, the amount of marijuana a person can grow and transport and the potential for additional growing facilities.

"The cumulative effect of these defects in the ballot language is fatal because the ballot language fails to properly identify the substance of the amendment, a failure that misleads voters," the court said.

The court allowed the ballot issue's title, "Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes," to stand in a blow to the backers who had taken issue with the use of the word "monopoly."

Passage of Issue 3 would make Ohio a rare state to go from outlawing marijuana to allowing it for all uses in one vote.

The full text of the proposed constitutional amendment has nearly 6,600 words. It would allow anyone 21 and older to buy marijuana for medicinal or personal use and grow four plants. It creates a network of 10 authorized growing locations, some that already have attracted a celebrity-studded list of private investors, and lays out a regulatory and taxation scheme.



Supreme Court sets stage for historic gay rights ruling
Press Release | 2015/01/19 22:30
The Supreme Court is getting back in the marriage business. The justices agreed Friday to decide a major civil rights question: whether same-sex couples have a right to marry everywhere in America under the Constitution.

The court will take up gay-rights cases that ask it to overturn bans in four states and declare for the entire nation that people can marry the partners of their choice, regardless of gender. The cases will be argued in April, and a decision is expected by late June.

The court chose not to decide this issue in 2013, even as it struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that paved the way for a wave of lower court rulings across the country in favor of same-sex marriage rights.

At that time, just 12 states and the District of Columbia permitted gay and lesbian couples to wed. That number has jumped to 36, almost all because of lower court rulings.

"The country is ready for the freedom to marry today," said James Esseks, leader of the American Civil Liberties Union's same-sex marriage efforts.

The appeals before the court come from gay and lesbian plaintiffs in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The federal appeals court that oversees those four states upheld their same-sex marriage bans in November, reversing pro-gay rights rulings of federal judges in all four states. It was the first, and so far only, appellate court to rule against same-sex marriage since the high court's 2013 decision.


Court won't hear free speech challenge to metals dealers law
Press Release | 2015/01/13 00:13
The Supreme Court won't consider the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bars precious metals dealers from advertising without a license.

The justices on Monday declined to take up an appeal from Liberty Coins, a gold and silver dealer that claims the law violates the free speech rights of businesses.

Ohio officials say the 1996 law was enacted to protect consumers from theft and help police track down stolen wedding rings, gold bracelets and other items resold at stores that buy gold and silver merchandise.

A federal judge in 2012 ruled the law unconstitutional because the state failed to prove the license requirement was effective in curbing theft, fraud and terrorism. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year.


California Supreme Court nominee confirmed
Press Release | 2014/12/25 00:53
A state panel on Monday confirmed another California Supreme Court appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown — a move that likely tilts the conservative-leaning court further to the left.

Leondra Kruger, 38, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, won unanimous approval by the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The confirmation of Kruger, who is black, brings down the court's average age and will give California one black, one Hispanic and three Asian justices. Four women will be on the panel.

Kruger is a Yale University law school graduate who appears to be a rising star in the legal profession. Critics, however, have pointed out that she has never served as a judge and has spent most of her legal career outside California, although she is a native of Los Angeles area.

Kruger responded to the criticism at her appointment hearing, saying her career had exposed her to a wide variety of legal issues, and she hoped to draw on the expertise of her colleagues on the court regarding any questions about California law.


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