Ohio Court of Appeals
Denies the People’s Right to Local Community Self-Government

Affirms corporate “rights” and state preemption over community rights in Broadview Hts.

March 8, 2016



Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Rights Network President, (OHCRN) [email protected]

BROADVIEW HTS, OH: Last week, the eighth appellate court of Ohio ruled against Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods (MADION) in a class action lawsuit brought by Broadview Heights residents in 2014.

The lawsuit was filed with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) against the State of Ohio and two corporations seeking to drill for oil and gas within the City. In the filing, MADION asserted the people have a community right to local, democratic self-government to protect their health, safety, and welfare.

The people of Broadview Heights exercised that right in November 2012, adopting a CELDF- drafted Community Bill of Rights banning fracking with 67% of the vote. The lawsuit was filed to enforce their Community Bill of Rights.

The court, however, was not moved by the will of the people, and affirmed the decision of a lower court, which recognized the corporate claimed “right” to bring industrial drilling and fracking into residential neighborhoods against the will of the people of that community.

Tish O’Dell, member of MADION and President of the OHCRN, stated, “The court affirmed the corporate claimed ‘right’ to use Broadview Heights as resource colony for the benefit of a few people, living far removed from the harms – people who hide behind the corporate shield, and, with permits in hand, site harmful projects for the sake of profits. We, the People of Broadview Heights, are being told that our will, expressed through a democratic vote, is meaningless in Cuyahoga County. We are being told to watch the toxins be injected and emitted into our neighborhoods and then WAIT. Wait for the harm to start surfacing in our community and in our children.”

Despite the court’s ruling, it did acknowledge that MADION was asserting a people’s right

distinct from a municipal power. This was key to MADION’s case, and marks the first time a

court recognized the distinction. They refused, however, to recognize the authority of a

people’s right.

Such decisions are not new. Slavery and women as property were legalized by legislatures

across the nascent United States, and upheld decade after decade by the courts. With every

unjust legislative act, and with every unjust court decision, the truth of our legal and governing

structure was revealed to growing numbers of people – and those people took action. They

refused to accept the authority of the legislature or the court. And when they were denied their

rights over and over again, they refused to accept this denial – over and over again.

O’Dell continued, “

Our ancestors challenged those laws, just as the people of Broadview

Heights are challenging unjust law today. Just as the people of Athens, Medina, and Portage

Counties and the people of Youngstown and Columbus are advancing community rights and

challenging every barrier the corporate state erects.”

Broadview Heights and the dozens of other communities across the state – and hundreds of

communities in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and

elsewhere – are forcing into light the truth of our anti-democratic legal and governing

structure. The people of Broadview Heights, like their allies in Lafayette, CO; Spokane, WA;

Coos County, OR; Grant Township, PA; Alexandria, NH; and many others – are in the front lines

of a movement that is building the momentum necessary to drive community rights forward for

social and political justice, and the sustainability of the planet.

Join us. For more information, visit www.ohcommunityrights.org. ***

OHCRN is establishing a network of communities working to advance, secure and protect
the inalienable rights of all Ohioans to democratic, local self-governance, to sustainable food, energy and economic systems, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish throughout Ohio. Contact us at [email protected]

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