The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, voting rights, regulation, taxation, and search and seizures.

1851 Center Staff Members

MAURICE A. THOMPSON – Executive Director

Maurice Thompson has directed the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law since founding it in 2008.  In that time, he has prevailed in state and federal courts in lawsuits advancing health care freedom, private property rights, taxpayer rights, school choice, political speech, commercial speech, ballot access, and voter integrity, while taking on institutions such as state and federal government agencies, local governments across Ohio, ACORN, teachers’ unions, public universities, corporate welfare and cronyism, and smoking bans.

Mr. Thompson has also authored and advanced voter initiatives to advance health care freedom, repeal the Ohio estate tax, reform public employee pensions, and introduce workplace freedom to Ohio.  All the while, Thompson is the author of Presuming Liberty: Using Ohio’s Constitution to Limit GovernmentDefending Liberty in Ohio: A Roadmap for Protecting Freedom and Limiting Government with the State Constitution, and the forward to Ohio’s Pocket Constitution, along with numerous other publications on law and policy in Ohio.

Mr. Thompson is a regular guest on state and national radio programs, and frequently lectures on natural rights law, constitutionalism, individual rights, education policy, health care policy, and property rights.  Although Mr. Thompson has enjoyed stints in the free-market public policy world with the National Taxpayers Union in Washington D.C. and Sam Adams Foundation in Chicago, he is a native Ohioan.  He grew up on his family’s farm in Northwest Ohio, has run several businesses in Ohio, undertook undergraduate studies in economics and philosophy at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and studied law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Email Maurice Thompson here.


Kelsey E. Hackem is a staff attorney at the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.  Kelsey primarily litigates cases to promote economic liberty, protect political speech, and secure property rights. Previously, she worked as a law clerk at a Philadelphia litigation firm and has done extensive volunteer work on various constitutional issues, particularly those relating to criminal law reform. Kelsey’s experience also includes an in-house position with a fortune 50 company and work with the Federal Public Defender.

Kelsey is a native of the Midwest, born and raised in southeast Michigan.  She received her law degree from Villanova University School of Law, achieving the Dorothy Day award for pro bono work.  Additionally, she served as Vice-President of the Federalist Society and Board Administrator of the Moot Court Board.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida.

Kelsey is a member of the Michigan bar.

Email Kelsey Hackem here.

1851 Center Board of Directors


Bradley A. Smith is a Professor of Law at Capital University Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading authorities on Election Law and Campaign Finance. In 2000, he was nominated by President Clinton to fill a Republican-designated seat on the Federal Election Commission, where he served for five years, including serving as Chairman of the Commission in 2004. Previously, he had been on the Capital University Law School faculty from 1993 to 2000. He has also taught law at George Mason University in Virginia.

Professor Smith is a fixture in the national discussion on campaign finance, and has been called “the most sought after witness” when Congress considers campaign finance issues. His writings have appeared in leading law journals across the country, including the Yale Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, the Harvard Journal of Legislation, and Pennsylvania Law Review. He also writes for popular publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and National Review.

Professor Smith’s book, “Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform (Princeton University Press),” received national attention when it was published in 2001. Syndicated columnist George Will praised it as “the year’s most important book on governance.” The Times of London called it “a much needed dose of realism which has relevance far beyond America,” and Publishers Weekly described it as “a marvelous contrarian view: moderate in tone, elegant in language, clever in argument.”


Christopher P. Finney is a shareholder in the law firm of Finney, Stagnaro, Saba & Patterson Co., L.P.A., where he concentrates in real estate and commercial law. He is co-founder of the Cincinnati-based Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), where he led campaigns against local tax increases. Mr. Finney has successfully litigated against government abuse and wasteful spending.


David N. Mayer is Professor of Law and History at Capital University, where he teaches courses in American constitutional history, English and American legal history, and intellectual property (copyright and unfair trade practices law), as well as a seminar in Libertarianism and the Law.

Before teaching at Capital, Professor Mayer taught at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois; held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia; and was an attorney with the firm of Pierson Semmes and Finley in Washington, D.C.

He has written The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994, paperback 1995), The Liberty of Contract (Cato Institute, 2011), and several articles in law reviews, history and political science journals.