Today, August 5, 2002 attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio will file suit in United States District Court asking that the court compel Governor Robert Taft to schedule a special election to fill the seat vacated by the expulsion of Congressman James Traficant (HD 17) from the U.S. House of Representatives.
The ACLU of Ohio is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization dedicated to protecting the rights and liberties of all.
Attorneys for the ACLU argue that the right to representation is a fundamental right guaranteed by both the United States and Ohio Constitutions. The clarity of the language in both documents is such that Governor Taft has no discretionary power not to call an election. It is his Constitutional duty to do so.
In published statements the Governor has said that he would not call an election due to cost concerns and the “shortness of time” until the scheduled November election. The ACLU finds neither argument reason enough to leave over half a million people in the 17th District without a legislative voice. The cost of the special election would be not much greater than what the State recently paid to re-shoot television ads promoting tourism in Ohio. Legislative representation is significantly more important to the citizens of Ohio. Over the next five months, The U.S. House of Representatives will face a preponderance of weighty domestic and foreign matters. Nor does the work of the House come to a halt during adjournment. Special sessions are not unusual, most recently to decide the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The people of the 17th U.S. House District have a Constitutional right to representation at all times, perhaps more so now than ever.