State’s Forced Chemotherapy on Amish Child Violates Parental Rights, Health Care Freedom Amendment

State sues to take Amish family’s daughter and force chemo on her after chemo nearly kills her and family chooses different treatment option   

amishColumbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today began representation of Andy and Anna Hershberger, parents of Sarah Hershberger, a ten year old Amish girl upon whom the State of Ohio, through Akron Children’s Hospital, seeks to force an unnecessary and potentially-deadly form of chemotherapy.

The litigation began when the Hershbergers removed their daughter from the Hospital in July, in favor of a less invasive alternative treatment, after it appeared as though chemotherapy itself was a greater threat to her than her mild form of cancer. The Hospital then moved in court to take Sarah from the Hershbergers and force treatment in July.

The case is now pending on a jurisdictional motion before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Motion for Jurisdiction requests review and reversal of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Ohio which concluded that Ohio children can be taken from their parents and forced to submit to objectionable procedures “without regard to the suitability of the parents.”  The Court used an obscure Ohio statute intended to address child abuse and neglect to order Sara to be taken from the home and forced to undergo chemotherapy.

However, the United States Supreme Court has long emphasized the importance of parents’ rights to direct the upbringing of their children, alongside the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. The Ohio Constitution does the same even more vigorously. Accordingly, on each front, the 1851 Center maintains:

  • Section 21, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment passed by 67 percent of Ohio voters in 2011 prohibits the compulsion of any person “to participate in a health care system.”
  • Even before Section 21, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the Ohio Constitution ensures “personal security, bodily integrity, and autonomy,” and therefore “[t]he right to refuse medical treatment” is amongst the “rights inherent in every individual.”
  • The U.S Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly provides protection to parents in the “care, custody, and control” of their children, including the right “to direct the upbringing . . . of children under their control.”
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the “primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition,” and “[t]he statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”

The Supreme Court has also explained that there is a “fundamental right to refuse medical treatment.” Despite these clear principles, the Court for the Ninth District ruled that “upon a mere finding it is in the best interest of a minor, [the Ohio Revised Code] authorizes a probate court to supplant a parent’s rights and responsibilities through appointment of a limited guardian,” and that it may do so irrespective of whether “the court finds the child’s natural parents to be unsuitable parents.”

The Court made this ruling even though Sarah’s mild form of cancer is a type that can and is being treated without chemotherapy, and despite conceding that chemotherapy may well cause loss of hair, infections, infertility, cardiovascular disease, damage to internal organs, an increased risk of contracting other cancers, and even death.

“This case touches upon the very role of government in a free society: our Constitutions do not empower state government to rip a child from her admittedly competent parents and loving home, and force her to submit to unneeded treatment that may kill or sterilize her, when other courses of treatment are being pursued, and are working,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. “This is amongst the very things that the 2011 Health Care Freedom Amendment was passed to guard against – – a state that can force health care upon you or deprive you of it can control every aspect of life.”

The hospital’s move came only after county social services officials found the Hershbergers to be quality parents, and, and despite hospital demands, refused to take Sarah from the family. The Medina County probate court found that the Hershbergers were model parents, explaining “there is no evidence the parents are unfit or unstable,” and “there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit.”

Lawsuit: Ohio’s Attempted Medicaid Expansion Unlawful

Governor’s end-run around the Ohio General Assembly violates the separation of powers, Controlling Board’s vote impermissibly contradicts General Assembly intent


Maurice Thompson answers questions following Ohio expansion of Medicaid

Columbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law late yesterday moved in the Ohio Supreme Court, on behalf of six veteran Ohio legislators and two of Ohio’s largest pro-life organizations, to stop Ohio’s executive branch from expanding Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) Medicaid spending without legislative approval.

The legal action is filed on behalf of State Representatives Matt Lynch, Ron Young, Andy Thompson, Ron Maag, John Becker, and Ron Hood, and Cleveland Right to Life and Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. These representatives and groups combine to represent nearly 1 million Ohioans.

The action asserts that in accepting jurisdiction over and passing the Governor’s proposed Medicaid spending, the Controlling Board exceeded its legal authority by acting inconsistently with the intent of the Ohio General Assembly. Specifically:


  • R.C. 127.17 states: “The Controlling Board shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly regarding program goals and levels of support of state agencies as expressed in the prevailing appropriation acts of the general assembly.”


  • The Ohio General Assembly first removed Governor Kasich’s proposed expansion of Medicaid spending from the state budget bill, and then inserted a prohibition against the expansion and spending.


  • Article II of the Ohio Constitution requires that the legislature, rather than administrative boards such as the Controlling Board, make major policy decisions.


  • In a 1980 challenge to the Controlling Board, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the Controlling Board’s authority is only constitutional because it must adhere to the intentions of the General Assembly, and because of “the availability of mandamus relief” through the High Court.


“Many competent individuals make strong arguments against Medicaid Expansion on policy grounds. Success in our lawsuit, however, will not prohibit changes to Medicaid through legitimate means. Our lawsuit stands for the simple proposition that neither this Governor nor any other is a king,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center.

“For government to be limited, the making of transformational public policy requires the assent of the Ohio General Assembly, and cannot be done through administrative overreach. This occasion requires Ohioans to draw a line in the sand and affirm that we’d rather not bring Washington D.C.- style decision-making to Ohio.”

The Supreme Court of the United States, in its seminal decision last July in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, explained that the spending expansion transforms a state’s Medicaid program from “a program to care for the neediest among us” to “an element of a comprehensive national plan to provide universal health insurance coverage” that “dramatically increases state obligations under Medicaid,” and is “an attempt to foist an entirely new health care system upon the States.”

Read the Complaint HERE.


October 23, 2013: Dayton Business Journal: Ohio Medicaid expansion gets legal challenge

October 23, 2013: WOSU NPR 89.7: Activists, Lawmakers Bring Promised Lawsuit Over Medicaid

October 22, 2013: SW Ohio conservatives file suit to stop Medicaid expansion

October 22, 2013: Bloomberg: Ohio Medicaid Expansion Plan Challenged in Lawsuit

October 21, 2013: New York Times: Medicaid Expansion Is Set for Ohioans

October 21, 2013: Columbus Dispatch: Medicaid-expansion opponents plan to sue Kasich administration

October 21, 2013: 60 Seconds Ohio: Maurice Thompson answers questions following Ohio expansion of Medicaid [VIDEO]

October 14, 2013: NBC 4: Controlling Board Medicaid Maneuver May Face Legal Challenge [VIDEO]

Legal Center Moves to Protect Ohioans’ Initiative and Referendum Rights from Legislative Suppression

Key features of Senate Bill 47 “reform” violate Ohio Constitution and First Amendment speech and associational rights, restrict free trade

iandrColumbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved in federal court to immediately enjoin the state from enforcing Senate Bill 47’s new limits on Ohioans’ initiative and referendum rights.  The legislation, which became effective in June, restricts Ohioans from working with anyone other than an Ohio resident when gathering signatures to place a ballot issue before voters, and prohibits certain Ohioans from gathering signatures during critical periods.

Secretary of State Jon Husted indicated in July that he intended to fully enforce the new regulations, throwing numerous petitioning efforts into disarray.

The legal action is filed on behalf of Ohioans for Workplace Freedom and Cincinnati for Pension Reform.  OWF is currently gathering signatures to place a right-to-work amendment before voters; and CPR incurred significant additional last-minute costs attempting to utilize only in-state petitioners.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that the First Amendment applies to the gathering of signatures to place issues on the ballot, characterizing it as “core political speech.”  Nevertheless, Ohio legislators have vigorously sought to limit these rights, which circumvent the legislative and executive branch.

Senate Bill 47 establishes an absolute prohibition of signature-gathering by anyone not residing in Ohio.  This prohibits Ohioans from contracting with out-of-staters, even though there are virtually no Ohio businesses that offer petition circulation.  Ohioans are also prohibited from seeking assistance from volunteers who do not reside in Ohio.

Legislators exempted themselves from these restrictions, creating an exception to candidate-nominating petitions.

The lawsuit seeks to restore Ohioans freedom to contract or associate with any and all American citizens to convey their message and advance their issue to the ballot.  The lawsuit further seeks to invalidate the prohibition, applicable only to those associated with the issue, on gathering signatures during certain critical periods.

“SB 47 consists of a set of back-door mechanisms that have the effect of eliminating initiative and referendum in Ohio, expunging the average citizen from participating in the political process without the assistance of politicians, and strengthening politicians’ monopoly on lawmaking,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center.

“Initiative and referendum supply an important check on arbitrary government, and also supply citizens with the opportunity to act as civic adults – – taking the lawmaking power into their own hands, rather than begging the legislature for change, and debating the issues, rather than the merits of a candidate’s personality.  And as with all regulations, the politically-powerful will find a way to be heard, whether through paying the higher costs or simply lobbying legislators more – – it’s the average Ohioan that Senate Bill 47 leaves out in the cold.”

These heightened tactics, which dramatically drive up the cost of ballot drives by reducing the supply of eligible signature gatherers, would effectively end grassroots freedom-oriented ballot drives such as that of the Workplace Freedom Amendment.

Read Citizens in Charge’s Complaint HERE.

Read Citizens in Charge’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction HERE.

Read 1851’s recent Testimony to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, defending Ohioans Initiative and Referendum rights, HERE.

October 5, 2013: The Toledo Blader: Guarding Ohio’s referendum process

September 20, 2013: Plain Dealer: Conservative groups cry foul over Ohio’s new restrictions on referendum petitions

Banning Internet Cafes to Benefit Casinos: Unconstitutional and Inadvisable

Attacking politically weak small businesses at behest of influential larger businesses is wrong way for Republicans to begin new legislative session

internetcafesColumbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today emphasized to Ohio’s state senators and representatives that “priority” legislation to shut down Ohio’s 800-plus internet cafes is inconsistent with principles of limited government, unconstitutional, and dangerous to Ohio’s economic well-being.

House Bill 7, introduced on February 8, is designed to regulate Ohio internet cafes out of existence. The legislation comes in swift response to the casino industry’s public expression of a strong desire “to prohibit internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio,” which are “posing a threat to existing state-licensed businesses.”

In a comprehensive analysis released today “Placing a Dangerous Bet: Banning Internet Cafes to Benefit Casinos is Unconstitutional and Inadvisable,” the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law explains that the legislation has no place on the “conservative” agenda, much less prioritized as a “first legislative initiative” by House Republican leadership. Specifically, the report asserts:

(1) The ban violates the most basic principles of limited government: treating similarly situated parties equally, respecting property rights and voluntary transactions, and avoiding choosing sides between market competitors.

(2) The newfound interest in banning rather than regulating these business coincides with casino lobbying for the same.

(3) The ban violates the spirit, if not the letter, of Ohio’s anti-cronyism provisions and property rights protections.

(4) The current text of House Bill 7 violates the free speech protections of the state and federal constitutions.

(5) Assigning such a high priority to legislation picking winners and losers amongst business competitors sends a dangerous message to the business community.

The report further notes that the internet cafe business model does not constitute gambling, is not prohibited by the Ohio Constitution’s “lottery” provision, and the only plausible justification for shutting down rather than licensing and regulating internet cafes is to advance the private financial interest of the Ohio’s new casinos.

“House Republicans are misguided in fast-tracking unconstitutional legislation that destroys over 800 harmless small businesses and 16,000 jobs, particularly while Ohioans continue to be burdened by overspending, over-taxation, and over-regulation at the state level,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. “This legislation sets a dangerous precedent by signaling to large businesses that they can use political influence to shut down their less influential competitors.”

“While internet cafes do not pursue a universally-adored business model, the property rights of ‘unpopular’ businesses must be afforded the same respect as those of popular businesses,” added Thompson.

Read the policy report: Placing a Dangerous Bet: Banning Internet Cafes to Benefit Casinos is Unconstitutional and Inadvisable

February 15, 2013: Twinsburg Bulletin: Ohio House Begins Hearings on New Bill to Regulate Sweepstakes Parlors [VIDEO]

1851 Center Efforts cited in Missouri News Horizon

On March 12, 2012, The Missouri News Horizon wrote about the economic damage caused by Kansas’s ban on smoking in bars. The article details the hardships placed on small business owners and cites the efforts of the 1851 Center. Read the full article here.

Is an Obamacare Exchange Legal in Ohio?

This 1851 Center analysis explains how the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment, Section 21 of Ohio’s Bill of Rights, forbids Ohio officials from imposing Obamacare health care exchanges on Ohioans. The document also explores reasons that such exchanges are an unwise policy choice

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Right of Individuals to Challenge Federal Laws Interfering with State Sovereignty

In Bond v. United States, the Supreme Court held that private individuals – not only the states – had standing to challenge federal laws as violating state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment.  In this case, a woman had been criminally prosecuted by the federal government under a statute implementing an inernational treaty regulating chemical weapons.   [Read more…]

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Public Financing of Elections

In Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, the Supreme Court of the United States continued its strong record of supporting political speech against governmental interference. The Court held Arizona’s system of using public funds to selectively fund campaigns unconstitutional. [Read more…]

Is the Individual Mandate Unprecedented?

Back in March, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced that Ohio would not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the federal healthcare law) because the suits did not “have any legal merit whatsoever.” He based his decision, in part, on his expansive reading of the Commerce Clause.   [Read more…]

Where is the State of Ohio in the Fight against Obamacare?

According to a March 2010 press release issued by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, our state will not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the official name of the federal health care law) because the suits do not have “any legal merit whatsoever.” [Read more…]