Supreme Court Dismisses JobsOhio Mandamus Action Without Ruling on Merits
In a 4-2 decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio dismissed a mandamus action filed by JobsOhio against Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman as a matter not properly before the court.
The court based its action, which did not address the merits of the constitutional issues raised in the case, on a finding that what the parties were actually seeking was a declaratory judgment or advisory opinion on the constitutionality of 2011 legislation that created JobsOhio and transferred control of the marketing and sale of alcohol in the state from the Commerce Department to JobsOhio.
In a per curiam opinion joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Yvette McGee Brown, the court listed two reasons why it was declining to address the case on its merits.
“First, a review of the complaint—as well as Goodman’s motion for judgment on the pleadings—indicates that the real object sought is a declaratory judgment, which this court lacks original jurisdiction to grant. ... Although JobsOhio’s complaint is couched in terms of compelling ODC Director Goodman to comply with his affirmative duty under R.C. 4313.02(C)(2) to execute the franchise-and-transfer agreement, it actually seeks an expedited ruling from this court declaring H.B. 1 and 153 constitutional, so as to preclude any further challenges.”
“Second, mandamus is not available if the relator has an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. ... JobsOhio has an adequate remedy by way of a declaratory-judgment action in common pleas court to raise its claim that H.B. 1 and 153 are constitutional.”
“We will not decide constitutional claims raised by parties who seek an advisory declaratory judgment for which they have adequate remedies in the ordinary course of law. Thus, we sua sponte dismiss the cause.”
Justice Paul E. Pfeifer dissented, noting that in the past the court has agreed to accept and decide an original action that addressed the constitutionality of a statute under “exceptional circumstances that demand early resolution.” Based on his view that “(t)his is one of those extraordinary cases,” Justice Pfeifer indicated that he would grant an alternative writ, which would allow the parties to immediately brief and argue the case before the Supreme Court.
Justice Robert R. Cupp entered a separate dissent indicating that he would grant the request of several parties for leave to file briefs in support of JobsOhio, grant a motion to intervene as respondents by several parties, reserve ruling on a motion to dismiss filed by the prospective intervenors, and grant an alternative writ allowing the case to go forward before the Supreme Court.
Justice Terrence O’Donnell did not participate in the court’s deliberations or decision in the case.
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2012-1356. State ex rel. JobsOhio v. Goodman, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-4425.
In Mandamus. Cause dismissed and all pending motions denied.
O’Connor, C.J., and Lundberg Stratton, Lanzinger, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Pfeifer and Cupp, JJ., dissent.
O’Donnell, J., not participating.
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