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Despite Ohio Supreme Court ruling, attorney on $300 unemployment checks case says it isn't over

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The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the case over whether Gov. Mike DeWine had the power to cut off $300 weekly checks to unemployed Ohioans last summer, three months before the federal program that funded those pandemic assistance checks ended.

But the attorney who argued for those payments said the case continues.

In a single sentence ruling, the court unanimously dismissed as moot the request for an immediate order to pay as many as 300,000 unemployed Ohioans $300 a week from June 2021 through Labor Day last year, when the federal program ended.

Former Ohio attorney general Marc Dann filed for the payments, and said this doesn’t mean the case is over.

“Although there will not be an immediate order to pay benefits, our two cases that have now been consolidated before [Franklin County Common Pleas] Judge [Michael] Holbrook and a third case that's now pending in the Ohio Court of Claims are very much alive," Dann said.

Holbrook ruled against Dann and the unemployed Ohioans last summer, sending the case to the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which ruled against the state. That brought the issue to the Ohio Supreme Court, where the case was argued in May.

Dann maintains DeWine didn’t have the authority to turn down the benefits, and he said this decision from the Ohio Supreme Court doesn’t speak to that. And he said the federal funds are still available.

“Whether the governor decides to access those funds or not, we still believe that the governor was acting outside of his legal authority, and that those Ohioans who were denied the benefits are entitled to them, whether from the state or whether the state's indemnified by the federal government. And we intend to aggressively appeal the underlying case," Dann said.

A spokesperson for current attorney general Dave Yost said in a statement: “Because the case was ruled moot, the case is over. No lower court awarded relief to the challengers, and now no court can. This is a victory for the State.”

The AG's office filed a motion in the Ohio Supreme Court for reconsideration, which concludes with this: "In line with the usual practice in moot appeals, the Governor and the Director move to add the following language to the opinion: “The Tenth District’s judgment is vacated and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the case as moot.”"

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.