14th Amendment possibly snagged in Ohio House


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Drizzt
March 6, 2003, 04:12 PM
14th Amendment possibly snagged in Ohio House
Some conservatives don't like how it's been used

By Laura A. Bischoff
Columbus Bureau

COLUMBUS | It seemed like a slam-dunk resolution to fix an embarrassing, 135-year-old blemish on Ohio's record, said state Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati.

After all, who would oppose finally ratifying the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens? Mallory got the entire 33-member Ohio Senate to vote for the resolution and sign on as co-sponsors Feb. 25.

In the Ohio House, it's quite a different story.

There, a handful of conservative Republicans say they're all for equal rights but don't like how judges have used the 14th Amendment in cases such as Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a woman's access to abortion, or in a federal court ruling last year that said reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in California schools was unconstitutional because it includes the words "under God."

"We now have a system where there's some misapplication. I don't want anybody to misconstrue our re-ratification of the 14th Amendment as also ratifying those cases where it's misapplied," said state Rep. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland.

The 14th Amendment guarantees equal rights for everyone born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of race. It was added to the Constitution in 1868, three years after Congress officially abolished slavery.

Ohio ratified it in 1867, but in the next election, Democrats, who had campaigned against the amendment, won a majority in the legislature, and in 1868, the legislature rescinded its ratification.

Ohio is the only state that has not ratified it.

University of Cincinnati law students researching Ohio laws recently brought the ratification-recension to the General Assembly's attention.

In February, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved the ratification — a move that has been reported in the national media. It sits in the House State Government committee awaiting action.

In a written message this week to House Republicans, Grendell said he will vote to re-ratify the 14th Amendment "because of its laudable purpose and often important application," but he also proposed tacking on an addendum that says Ohio does not ratify the amendment's "prior judicial misapplication."

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, is proposing more strident language: "Resolved that the General Assembly rejects those judicial interpretations of the 14th Amendment that unreasonably restrict state governments from promoting the free exercise of religion, defending the sanctity of unborn life and ensuring the equitable distribution of education dollars to aid students enrolled in schools sponsored by religious institutions."

Mallory said Seitz or Grendell's addendum would make it difficult to pass the resolution.

"It is embarrassing enough that we haven't corrected this problem in all these years. I think it would be real shame if we can't get this resolved without individual members piling on their pet peeves," Mallory said. "This was just in Newsweek. The national media are paying attention."

Even talk of not ratifying the 14th Amendment could give Ohio a black eye, but it would be undeserved, said state Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, who said he will vote for ratification but shares Grendell's concerns.

"I think there could be a public appearance that if Ohio somehow doesn't approve this or some members of the House don't support this that, somehow, those members don't support racial equality. The reality is nothing further from that," he said.

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Blackhawk
March 6, 2003, 09:32 PM
Ohio is still bound by the 14A whether it ratifies it or not. Why it doesn't clean its act up is evident by some of those in its Congressional delegation.... :rolleyes:

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