National Security Press Release

04.13.06

ACLU Files Suit Against Ohio Patriot Act Provision

Lawyers, Others Required to Sign Anti-Terrorism Oaths That Rely on Discredited "Watch Lists"

COLUMBUS, OH- The Ohio Patriot Act goes into effect on Friday, April 14 and the ACLU of Ohio will file a writ in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging unnecessary and potentially dangerous requirements of the Act.

The section of the Ohio Patriot Act in question requires anyone doing business with the state to sign an oath stating they are not terrorists, do not employ terrorists and has never materially supported terrorist groups. If the person refuses to sign the oath, they may not conduct business with the state. This ACLU of Ohio’s challenge to this provision involves court-appointed attorneys directly, but the oath could be required of social workers, building contractors and vendors, among others.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso said, “There is no evidence that these anti-terrorist oaths do anything to prevent terrorism or apprehend terrorists. Instead, this will only create more bureaucracy and could lead to innocent people put under government scrutiny.”

Gamso continued, “The terror watch lists that are used to check employees have been proven to be tremendously flawed and wholly unreliable. Countless people who have no connection to terrorism have been added to the watch lists for absolutely no reason.”

This suit comes on the same day the Ohio Patriot Act goes into effect. The bill was passed out of the Ohio General Assembly on December 14, 2005 and signed by Governor Taft on January 11, 2006. The bill was strenuously debated for most of 2005, with groups such as the League of Women Voters and Ohio Citizen Action opposing the act.

“Throughout the months of debate on the Ohio Patriot Act, experts predicted that the bill would lead to serious violations of civil liberties without providing any meaningful protection against future terrorist attacks.
The act seriously infringes on due process rights, chills dissent and encourages racial profiling of immigrants and people of color.” Gamso added.