Value of Directly-Elected Judges Proven Once Again in Clyde Case

By Ken Hanson, Esq.

Nationwide there has been a great debate over “merit selection” of judges versus direct election of judges, driven largely by the role that campaign money plays in judicial elections, and the taint casted upon judicial impartiality as a result. Ohio is not immune to this discussion, and Chief Justice Moyer has been a nationwide leader in the quest to strip citizens of the power to hold judges accountable. Chief Justice Moyer is a proponent of politicians hand-picking judges statewide (aka Merit Selection), and he is also leading a Jihad against Mayor’s Courts in Ohio, the most responsive and accountable form of Court in existence. After reading Moyer’s dissent in the Clyde case, it is no wonder CJ Moyer is so desperate to obtain protection from the voters.

In case you missed the Clyde decision, you should take a moment to read the dissents, beginning on page 15. I am sure you will be as horrified and revolted as I was. In case you have not read the opinion and have no desire to, the basis for both dissents is that cities are being denied the same rights as citizens. You heard that right – 3 of 7 Ohio Supreme Court judges believe that cities must stand on equal constitutional footing with private citizens. I swear I am not making this up.

Chief Justice Moyer complains “This different treatment of public and private property is patently arbitrary and unreasonable; it affects one class of land solely on the basis of ownership…” Um, yeah. So what? Public land is different than private land, why is that objectionable to the Chief Justice of our highest court? Public land is held in trust by the municipalities for we, the people. Not just we, the several hundred who happen to be near the land, but we, all the people.

Since Chief Justice Moyer is so committed to laws being applied equally to private and public land, I very strongly encourage readers to apply for a parade permit to be held in Chief Justice Moyer’s living room at his house. Give me a call after the State Highway Patrol gets done investigating you, I’m dying to find out what happens.

Fortunately, Chief Justice Moyer is ineligible to run for reelection due to age limits. Soon he will be unable to commit senseless and wanton acts of justice on the Ohio public.

Equally absurd and shocking is Justice Pfeifer’s dissent, where he laments that cities are being deprived of their protections under the Equal Protection Clause of the Ohio and U.S. Constitution. I am sure Ohio Congressman John Bingham, chief drafter of the Federal Equal Protection Clause, turned over in his grave when that sentence was put to paper. Justice Pfeifer asserts that cities have the same protections as, say, recently freed slaves. Being confused, I dug out the Fourteenth Amendment and Article I Section Two, and sure enough, both use the word “people/person” and not “city/municipality.”

Justice Pfeifer attempts to provide some legal cover by stating that the East Liverpool case held that a municipality may assert that a state statute violates the Equal Protection Clauses. Assuming I slept through the news flash that held that “city”=”person” for the purposes of constitutional protections, I dug up East Liverpool opinion. Sure enough, that case held that cities may assert Equal Protection claims ON BEHALF OF INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS WHO’S RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, NOT ON BEHALF A OF CITY BEING TREATED DIFFERENTLY THAN A CITIZEN, which is the whole burr under the dissents’ saddle. Municipalities may derivatively assert on behalf of their citizens that a law violates the EPC; nothing in that case suggests that cities may not be treated differently than citizens.

Justice Pfeifer’s dissent is morally and intellectually bankrupt, versus Moyer’s which is only morally bankrupt. Cities have powers, not rights. Citizens have rights. Moyer, Pfeifer and Lanzinger are attempting to amend constitutional law to hold that municipalities are in the same rights-class as citizens. This has never been a consideration in American jurisprudence, and these three need to be stopped before they make it into one.

The actual words of Ohio’s amendment read, in part: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary.”

Moyer is leaving, Pfeifer is up for reelection in 2010, with speculation that he will run for the Chief Justice seat. Ohio’s citizens, whether they be gun owners or not, need to heed the words above. Political power belongs to the people, and we may alter or reform government whenever we see fit. We need to reform our Supreme Court to remove Monarchists like Moyer, Pfeifer and Lanzinger as soon as possible. Further, we need to be ever vigilant to guard against merit selection and abolition of local courts not subject to Supreme Court control (mayor’s courts.)

Thanks to direct election of judges, Buckeye Firearms pledges that you will have an alternative to Pfeifer in 2010, whoever that may be. Your job in the interim is to remember these dissents and make sure your like-minded friends also remember.

Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio and is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the Heller case. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, is a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.

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