High court: Trio lacks standing to challenge JobsOhio

Group does not have personal stake in outcome


COLUMBUS — Two Democratic lawmakers and a liberal political group lack standing to challenge the constitutionality of Gov. John Kasich's private economic development corporation, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

By a vote of 5-2, the court found that the trio did not have a personal stake in the outcome of the case.

"When an injured party seeks to challenge JobsOhio, we may entertain such a case," wrote Justice Judith French, the sole Kasich appointee on the bench. "But those parties are not before us today. Appellants lack standing to bring this suit, and they may pursue it no further."

State Sen. Mike Skindell (D., Lakewood), former state Rep. Dennis Murray (D., Sandusky), and ProgressOhio had filed suit challenging the use of state dollars, specifically its liquor monopoly profits, to finance the job-creation efforts of a private non-profit entity. The lower courts, however, had thrown the case out on the standing issue, and the Supreme Court has now upheld that decision.

Justice French was joined in the majority vote by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, Justice Judith Lanzinger, Justice Sharon Kennedy, and 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore, sitting in for Justice Terrence O'Donnell. Justice O'Donnell had recused himself from the case because Mr. Skindell was his opponent in his last election.

Justices Paul Pfeifer and William O'Neill dissented. Justice Pfeifer wrote that this was the third time that the court has decided not to weigh into the question of JobsOhio's constitutionality.

"Today, this court ends all doubt about when it will determine the constitutionality of the JobsOhio legislation, essentially responding, 'Not ever.' Not here. Not now. Not ever," he wrote. "An Ohio citizen who possesses no personal stake in the outcome of a case other than ensuring that his or her government live up to the Ohio Constitution has a means to vindicate that case."