(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A federal judge on Thursday invalidated the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, declaring it unconstitutionally vague and saying it exceeded the power of municipal government in Ohio.
“Let’s save Lake Erie – but do it legally,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, whose office represented the state in the case. “As Judge Zouhary said, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is ‘a textbook example of what municipal government cannot do.’”
LEBOR asserted that Lake Erie should have legal rights as an ecosystem. In February 2019, Toledo voters approved an amendment adding it to the city’s charter.
Yost’s office and Drewes Farms Partnership responded by filing a lawsuit against Toledo, arguing that LEBOR would give the city too much power over Lake Erie.
U.S. Judge Jack Zouhary agreed, writing in his decision that “Lake Erie is not a pond in Toledo. It is one of the five Great Lakes and one of the largest lakes on Earth, bordering dozens of cities, four states, and two countries.
“That means the Lake’s health falls well outside the City’s constitutional right to local self-government, which encompasses only ‘the government and administration of the internal affairs of the municipality.’”
Attorneys with Yost’s Environmental Enforcement Section worked the case.