ACLU of Ohio

photo of Cathy Harper Lee

Issue 1, the constitutional amendment that gives crime victims legal standing, was overwhelming approved by Ohio voters at the ballot box. It passed 83-17.

A surprising win, even for supporters
Dr. Henry Nicholas financed most of the Ohio campaign to pass Issue 1, known as Marsy’s Law. It’s named for his sister, who was killed by her boyfriend in 1983. Nicholas flew in from California to be with supporters of Marsy’s Law as the results came in on Election Night. And he seemed surprised at its overwhelming passage.

Screenshot of Kelsey Grammer
Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

Editor's Note: This is a story about Issue 1 that was on the ballot in Ohio in November 2017. If you are interested in knowing more about Issue 1 that will be on the ballot in November 2018 please click here.

Next week’s statewide ballot is topped off by a question about the rights of victims of crime -- and their place in the Ohio Constitution. Issue 1 is also known as Marsy’s Law.

photo of purged voters court ruling

The U.S. Justice Department has taken an unusual move. It reversed its position on a high-profile US Supreme Court case involving Ohio’s process for maintaining voter rolls.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys have filed a friend of the court brief, saying Ohio can legally remove voters flagged as inactive or those who have failed to respond to recent mailings.

LGBTQ pride flag

The ACLU of Ohio is defending a Columbus City School employee who posted hateful comments against LGBTQ people and the city’s Pride Festival.

Chris Dodds works for the Columbus City school district’s garage. A post from his account used a slur to describe gay people and said they should be “killed or at least relocated.”

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U.S. Supreme Court

The fight over how Ohio has maintained its voter rolls has made it to the nation’s highest court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case involving the removal from Ohio's voter rolls people who haven’t cast a ballot for six years. Secretary of State Jon Husted is happy about that. 

“We think it’s great news because it’s going to give us a chance to validate that Ohio is following the rules for how you are supposed to maintain voter rolls.”

photo of Cleveland Police Headquarters

The ACLU of Ohio is asking Cleveland to recommit to the promises made in a  2015 consent decree to reform the Police Department. This Friday marks two years since the agreement was signed.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the review of every police reform agreement in the country.

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A group of juvenile advocates is asking Ohio’s top court to require that kids speak to a lawyer before they’re asked if they wish to waive attorney representation.

Mike Brickner with the ACLU of Ohio says there are cases when a parent, guardian or even judge might think the best thing would be to pass on having an attorney to speed up the process.

photo of Hopkins protest

The ACLU of Ohio has joined a nationwide lawsuit to force the release of documents on the implementation of President Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

The suit comes after the ACLU filed Freedom of Information requests for the documents in February, just after President Trump's first travel ban was announced. There’s been no response, so now ACLU chapters across the country have filed suits to compel the release of the documents.

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ACLU of Ohio

The ACLU of Ohio is asking local sheriffs to leave the enforcement of President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies to the federal government.

The organization reached out to the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and police departments in Ohio’s 10 most populated counties, including Summit and Cuyahoga.

ACLU Sues Cleveland Over Its Panhandling Laws

Feb 28, 2017
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ACLU of Ohio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is suing the city of Cleveland in federal court over its panhandling ordinances. The group says the laws are unconstitutional because they single out one type of free speech, which is asking for money.

photo of Andrea Rehkemp, David Voth and Cathy Harper Lee

A group representing crime victims in Ohio says more needs to be done to ensure families who suffer from crime are treated fairly. This group wants Ohio voters to amend the constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. Five other states have passed such issues.

a photo of voters at a polling place

Donald Trump has called for his supporters be on the lookout for voter fraud at polling locations.

But people who want to volunteer in Ohio as election observers must be certified by their county’s board of elections. And they are not allowed to record, persuade, challenge or otherwise engage with voters.

Mike Brickner from the ACLU of Ohio says observers are given official credentials to present each time they enter a precinct.

logo of ACLU Ohio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is urging the state to not share a database used by law enforcement. 

The database includes driver’s license photographs, mug shots and corrections photos. The ACLU’s Gary Daniels is concerned the state will share those pictures with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“This information about all of us could potentially be abused.”

Daniels fears the FBI would use these photographs to spy on innocent Ohioans.

ACLU sues Cleveland Over RNC Protest Rules

Jun 14, 2016
Christine Link of the Ohio ACLU
ACLU of Ohio

The ACLU of Ohio is suing the city of Cleveland over regulations for protests during next month's Republican National Convention.  

ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link says one of the suits calls for the city to reduce the size of the so called “Event Zone” which covers more than 3-square miles of downtown. Link says people within the zone, particularly the homeless, would be restricted from carrying items such as sleeping bags, canned food and coolers.

Photo of sign asking for help

UPDATE:  A city spokeswoman says they haven't been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio made good this week on its promise to sue the City of Akron if changes were not made to its law restricting panhandling.  

Photo of Jon Husted

The state is being sued over the way Secretary of State Jon Husted is handling the removal of voters from the state’s voting rolls. 

The Ohio American Civil Liberties Union’s Freda Levinson says Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is using illegal criteria to purge voters.

“Under federal law, it is not permissible to cancel a voter for exercising their right not to vote,” Levinson said.


While the election may be driving a divide between and even inside political parties, conservatives and liberals in Ohio continue to work on one issue together. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, one group has released a comprehensive report to try and tackle criminal justice reform.

More than 50,000 people are in Ohio prisons. That’s down from an all-time high of more than 51,000 in 2008. But leaders from all over the political spectrum believe something needs to be done to cut down further on the prison population.

ACLU Asks Akron Leaders to Abolish Panhandling Rules

Jan 11, 2016
Photo of sign asking for help

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue the city of Akron over laws restricting panhandling. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Nick Castele reports.

The rules have been on the books in some form for more than 20 years, and city council tightened them several years ago.

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The ACLU of Ohio

The ACLU of Ohio is taking action to stop the state from removing residents who don’t vote often enough from the voting rolls.

The organization sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today demanding that it stop a process that it calls illegal.

Legal Director Freda Levenson says Ohio’s current program punishes Ohio voters.