COLUMBUS - In letters sent Tuesday, Voters First called on local bar associations across Ohio to hear from supporters of Issue 2, after the Ohio State Bar Association took the highly unusual step of opposing the measure without hearing from both sides.
Voters First made the request after learning the OSBA is now urging local bar associations to quickly pass a resolution opposing Issue 2. To expedite the process, the OSBA even included a draft resolution with the letter.
"It's hard to believe that legal professionals, who understand the value of due process, would go to such great lengths to discourage a full debate on this important issue," said Sandy Theis, spokeswoman for Voters First. "A growing number of legal scholars from around Ohio have concluded that the state bar association is flat out wrong in its assertion that Issue 2 poses a conflict for judges."
In a recent letter signed by more than a dozen legal professors and scholars, including a past OSBA president, Issue 2 supporters rejected the conflict of interest concerns and said the role of judges in the proposal is both proper and legally sound.
"One would particularly expect that an organization representing lawyers from across Ohio would avoid a rush to judgment by providing a full hearing of both sides of the issue before deciding whether or what position to take," said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a nationally acclaimed expert on election law. "We request that local bar associations uphold the long-standing tradition in the legal profession to hear from both sides before determining what position to take on this."
If approved in November, Issue 2 would strip politicians of their authority to determine congressional and legislative boundaries and transfer that power to an independent citizens committee. The measure is intended to end the hyper-partisan tone in Washington and Columbus and make sure that one political party does not have an unfair advantage.
It calls for appellate judges to narrow the pool of applicants for the citizens committee. Ohio already allows judges to make appointments to local entities such as metro parks boards.