National Security Press Release

09.13.06

ACLU Victorious in Ohio Patriot Act Challenge

Attorneys Not Required to Sign Terrorism Oaths

COLUMBUS, OH—Today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that attorneys seeking to represent indigent clients in Ohio are no longer required to sign documents swearing that they are not terrorists and have no involvement with terrorist groups. The court ruled that requiring the pledges from court-appointed attorneys fell outside of the act’s definition of those who should sign the pledges.

Since the Ohio Patriot Act was enacted on April 14, 2006, the ACLU of Ohio has been inundated with questions and requests for aide from business professionals, lawyers, academics and various private companies who have all been forced to sign the terrorism oaths. Today’s decision marks the first successful challenge to the pledges.

When first introduced in the Ohio General Assembly in 2005, the Ohio Patriot Act came under intense scrutiny from civil rights, public advocacy and community groups because of concerns of racial and ethnic profiling, increased bureaucracy and ineffective practices to prevent terrorist attacks in Ohio. Recently, the terrorism oath provision has come under fire from members of the state government because it has led to increased workloads, less government transparency and widespread confusion over who is required to sign the pledges.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU of Ohio has offices in Cleveland and Cincinnati and community and campus chapters located throughout the state. Due to a recent increase in membership, there are now almost 30,000 ACLU members and supporters in Ohio and more than 500,000 nationwide.