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Group vows to continue to fight to end qualified immunity in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – A group that wants to end qualified immunity for public employees in Ohio promised to keep pushing for a new constitutional amendment after being rejected for a fifth time.

The Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunity wanted to end what it calls a legal loophole – qualified immunity – by putting the proposed amendment before voters on the 2024 general election ballot.

The group said immunity has led to a lack of accountability for law enforcement officers and has stopped citizens from “seeking justice” for the misconduct of rogue officers.

After receiving a summary of the proposed amendment earlier this month, Attorney General Dave Yost rejected it for the fifth time, saying it contained misstatements and omissions.

“We identified omissions and misstatements that, as a whole, would mislead a potential signer as to the actual scope and effect of the proposed amendment,” Yost said in a letter to the group.

Similar amendment summaries were submitted to Yost in May 2021, August 2021, November 2022 and May 2023. Each of those was rejected as well.

The attorney general’s role in the petition process is to determine whether the language submitted is a fair and truthful summary of the proposed statute or constitutional amendment.

Yost said the most recent summary did not meet the requirement.

In a news release, the coalition said Yost’s decision was built on legally unsound and flawed interpretations.

“Our coalition worked diligently to present a fair and truthful representation of the proposed amendment in the summary. The continued obstinacy from AG Yost’s office suggests a lean toward obstructionism rather than genuine understanding. We remind the AG’s office that the purpose of these processes is to further democratic participation, not hinder it,” the coalition said in its release. “The Ohio Coalition To End Qualified Immunity remains committed to its mission and will explore all available avenues to ensure Ohioans can vote on this critical amendment. Our fight to end qualified immunity and hold our government accountable when it violates our constitutional rights in Ohio continues.”

Qualified immunity protects state and local officials, law enforcement officers, teachers and other government employees from being sued for civil liability unless the official violated a clearly established constitutional right.

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