Ohio Legislators File Sunday Suit:

On Friday, Ohio Republican legislative leaders in Ohio filed suit challenging the validity of newly elected Governor Ted Strickland's veto of a bill outgoing Governor Bob Taft sought to let become law without his signature. According to the suit, technically filed against the new Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, Strickland could not have vetoed the bill because it became law before he took office. As I detailed here, at issue is how to count the number of days after the end of the legislative session for a bill to become law without the Governor's signature.

instead of suing Strickland for his veto on his first day in office, Jan. 8, House Speaker Jon A. Husted and Senate President Bill M. Harris took on Brunner, arguing that she did not have the power to return the bill to him after former Gov. Bob Taft filed it with the secretary of state's office Jan. 5.

Husted and Harris are asking the Supreme Court to force Brunner to change her records to show the bill was not vetoed and allow it to take effect 90 days after it was filed.

"Brunner failed to carry out the secretary of state's constitutional and statutory duties to maintain, preserve and keep safe (the bill) as filed by Governor Taft," the lawsuit said. . . .

[Brunner's] position is that the 10-day window for a governor to sign a bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature had not expired when Strickland asked her to return the bill.

Here is additional coverage of the suit from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Associated Press.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Ohio Legislators File Sunday Suit:
  2. Are Sundays "Days"?
John (mail):
As you noted before, the relevant statutory language is:

"If a bill is not returned by the governor within ten days, Sundays excepted, after being presented to him, it becomes law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the general assembly by adjournment prevents its return; in which case, it becomes law unless, within ten days after such adjournment, it is filed by him, with his objections in writing, in the office of the secretary of state."

The problem is whether the explicit "Sundays excepted" phrase from the first part should be implied in the second part which just says "ten days." If it is, then the veto works; if not, the law is good.

I think a court will want to find some rationale the legislature might have had for not putting "Sundays excepted" in the second part of the provision. If it cannot find a rationale, it will likely assume the "Sundays excepted" language applies to the second "ten days" clause.

One rationale has to do with the fact that the second clause only applies when the legislature has adjourned. Since the "Sundays excepted" phrase applies to when the legislature is still in session, one could reason that the return of bills should not interfere with the day of rest. On the other hand, when the legislature is not in session, Sunday is like any other day as far as the legislature is concerned, so it might as well not be excluded from the calculation.
2.4.2007 4:03pm
Ohio Lawyer:
You can find the complaint in pdf form on the court's official docket. When other documents are filed, you will be able to find them at the same link within 24 hours.
2.4.2007 4:29pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):

The problem is whether the explicit "Sundays excepted" phrase from the first part should be implied in the second part which just says "ten days." If it is, then the veto works; if not, the law is good.

Almost, but not quite. For the veto to be valid, both (a) Sundays must be excepted, AND (b) the days must be counted from when the bill was presented to the governor (Dec. 27) instead of from the adjournment of the legislature (Dec. 26).
2.4.2007 5:50pm
Old 33:
As a former Ohioan, it is somewhat fitting that this whole dispute arises out of the lack of action of the gutless former governor, Bob Taft. If Taft wanted to the bill to become law (which we must presume he did, since otherwise he would have vetoed it), he could have signed the bill.

But rather than sign the bill, he let it languish. He took a position out of apathy, rather than out of conviction. And it will cost the taxpayers of Ohio several hundred thousand dollars to sort out Taft's exiting spinelessness.
2.5.2007 11:42am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
As a current Ohio citizen, I concur with Old 33. Taft was a disaster from day one to beyond his term. Why not sign it? It is not like he has any political future whatsoever.
2.5.2007 1:15pm
I believe the focus of the suit on whether the Governor has the power to request the bill be returned to him after it has been filed with the Secretary of State without any objections. If the Governor doesn't have that power, then it doesn't matter how you count.

I agree that Taft was a disaster. Voters need to learn to stop electing pols on the basis of family name.
2.5.2007 1:37pm
Joe Jackson:
I couldn't agree more with the last two comments.

Some of the blame needs to be shared with the legislature, though. If they really believed in tort reform, they could have passed this bill at any time in the past 4-8 years. There was no reason to wait until the last 10 days of a lame-duck session.
2.5.2007 1:41pm