Court challenge likely of veto overide

Jeremy Pelzer -

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A court challenge to a new law curbing Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus powers is likely, according to top lawmakers.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman told reporters following Wednesday’s vote that there “probably” will be a lawsuit filed against SB22, though he said he doesn’t know where such a suit would come from.

But Huffman, a Lima Republican, said the law has been reviewed by Senate lawyers. “I’m confident that we took the time to do this right,” he said.

The law, passed over DeWine’s veto, gives lawmakers the authority to cancel any gubernatorial health orders lasting longer than 30 days, requires the governor’s office to renew such orders every 60 days, limits local health officials’ power to quarantine or self-isolate people, and allows Ohioans to sue over the constitutionality of any state emergency order in their home county. The new law takes effect in 90 days.

DeWine, in his veto message, asserted that “significant portions of SB 22” violate the Ohio Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, lawmaking procedures, and powers given to the judiciary.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney, speaking on Wednesday before the legislative override votes, said it’s “to be determined” whether the governor will go to court against the new law. Tierney said administration officials first need to speak with “legal counsel.”

However, it also remains to be seen whether DeWine’s “legal counsel” will be Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Yost, a Columbus Republican, might instead defend the law on behalf of the legislature and hire a special counsel to represent the governor.

Yost spokesman Steve Irwin said Wednesday that he’s not sure what Yost would decide to do in such a situation, as it’s “a hypothetical, at this point.”

Of course, a legal challenge against SB22 could also come from somewhere besides the governor’s office.

Beth Bickford, executive director of the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, said she wasn’t aware of any local health officials’ plans to file a lawsuit against SB22. But she noted that the legislation won’t take effect until June.

“So I guess that relieves some of the pressure on any kind of legal action right away,” she said.

Jeremy Pelzer

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