The court hearing for the Athens County Charter appeal is now postponed (again) until September 19.
It is now scheduled for 9:30 on Sept,19, 2019 at the Washington Count Court House in Marietta.
The court hearing is the result of a challenge to the rejection of the Charter proposal by the Athens County Board of Elections. Despite the fact that we had a sufficient number of valid signatures for the initiative to go on last November's ballot, the Board refused to put it on the ballot because, in their judgement, it was not consistent with the Ohio Constitution and state statutes.
But who are they to make such a legal decision?
The Board's decision was upheld against our appeal at the level of the Athens County Common Pleas Court. With the help of our lawyers from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, we are appealing that judgement at the District Court level.
The legality of any law can be challenged, but it is always the courts who decide. The courts can only make that decision if the proposal becomes law by being adopted - in the case of an initiative like our Charter proposal, by the voters.
By preventing the Charter proposal from appearing on the ballot, the Board of Elections has usurped the authority of the courts. The legal principle of separation of powers demands that such a decision be made, not by the Board of Election, an agency of the Executive Branch of state government, but by the judicial branch of government, namely by the courts. We are simply asking that the courts not allow the Board of Elections to usurp their authority.
The Charter itself is controversial. It claims the right of Athens citizens to clean water and clean air, and to prohibit activities which would violate that right. It claims rights for ecological systems, the integrity of which is essential for human life and prosperity. It may or may not be approved by voters when it gets on the ballot. But it must go on the ballot so the voters can make their choice and the courts can decide whether or not its contents violate the Ohio or the US constitutions.
We hope the Court sees it our way.
Athens citizens may wish to attend the court hearing, if only to impress the judges that there are people who think this is an important decision, one for the judge to take very seriously.
ATHENS COUNTY CHARTER APPEAL
Washington County Courthouse
204 Davis Av
Marietta OH 45750