Two weeks ago we broke the story of Republican lawmakers trying to disenfranchise Ohio’s college students. This week we got some rare honesty from House Speaker Batchelder when he admitted that he was, in fact, trying to keep college kids paying out-of-state tuition from voting in Ohio and he was doing it because he didn’t think they should be allowed to vote on tax levies that they might not be responsible for paying.
David Pepper, candidate for Ohio Attorney General, called Batchelder’s justification “blatantly unconstitutional” and warned that his “comments would quickly become Exhibit A in a successful Constitutional challenge of this scheme to keep Ohio’s college students from voting.” Pepper provided examples from case law (below) to support his claim.
Attorney General Mike DeWine has yet to provide his opinion on the proposed legislation. But given his long list of legal mistakes since taking office, it might be better if he just kept his mouth shut for once.
From David Pepper’s release:
Every sentence in the Speaker’s quote contradicts basic, long-established constitutional law:
In 1969, in a landmark voting rights case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a New York law that limited voting in school board races to property owners (ie. school taxpayers) and the schools’ parents. The Court rejected the state’s argument (identical to the Speaker’s) that only those two groups had a primary interest in such elections.
- Kramer v. Union Free School District (1969) -
Other key Supreme Court cases have rejected the Speaker’s assertion that states can discriminate against voters based on where they are from originally, if they have come to a state recently, and how they might vote in particular elections:
“‘Fencing out’ from the franchise a sector of the population because of the way they may vote is constitutionally impermissible.”
- Carrington v. Rash (1965) -
“[T]he fact that newly arrived [state residents] may have a more national outlook than long-time residents, or even may retain a viewpoint characteristic of the region from which they have come, is a constitutionally impermissible reason for depriving them of their chance to influence the electoral vote of their new home State.”
- Dunn v. Blumstein (1972) -