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ACLU Sues to Allow Former Felons to Petition the Government

American Civil Liberties Union

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has challenged an Ohio law that bars formerly incarcerated felons from circulating petitions.

The ACLU filed suit in U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio to challenge the 2006 law, saying it violates the constitutional right to petition the government.

“Formerly incarcerated Ohioans have a fundamental right to participate in civic life once they have served their time,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “In the last year alone, Ohio has seen ballot issues on a wide array of important concerns. By denying citizens the right to participate in these processes, state legislators continue to punish them long after they have paid their debt to society.”

Former Attorney General Richard Cordray issued an opinion in 2010 saying the prohibition is lifted once the offender completes parole, but petition circulation companies worried about having signatures thrown out has effectively resulted in a ban.

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