Ohio AG claims victory after judge shoots down ‘tax mandate’ provision in Biden’s COVID relief package

Ohio’s Republican attorney general is speaking out after a judge handed down a win for the state GOP this week in a suit challenging a provision in President Joe Biden’s massive American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed along party lines earlier this year.

According to the Washington Examiner, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had taken issue with a section of the law that forbids states and localities from using their shares of the federal relief money to fund tax cuts for their constituents, a provision the AG said violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In a Thursday ruling, Judge Douglas R. Cole of the Southern District of Ohio agreed, saying “the Tax Mandate’s language falls short of what settled law requires in terms of such clarity,” and issuing what Cleveland.com described as “a permanent injunction blocking the U.S. Treasury Department from enforcing [the provision] in Ohio.”

“[T]he Court finds that the Tax Mandate exceeds Congress’s power under the Constitution,” the judge wrote, according to the Examiner. “The Court further finds that Ohio has met the conditions for injunctive relief to prevent the ongoing harm that this constitutional violation is causing.”

“A monumental win”

In a statement, Yost called the ruling “a monumental win for the preservation of the U.S. Constitution.”

“The Biden administration reached too far, seized too much and got its hand slapped,” the Ohio AG said, according to The Columbus Dispatch. “[T]he separation of powers is real, and it exists for a reason.”

He also called the decision a victory for democracy. “This case is about the separation of power,” he said, according to the Dispatch, “and I am pleased that the court agreed with our position that the Tax Mandate is out of bounds.”

“Stay in their lane”

As it stands, the injunction handed down Thursday only applies to the state of Ohio, as law professor Jonathan Adler pointed out for The Volokh Conspiracy blog. But a similar suit, led by attorneys general from West Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas, has already garnered the support of more than half a dozen other states.

Speaking early Friday with the Washington Examiner, Yost said “the federal government has to stay in their lane.”

“And if they don’t, we’re prepared to bump them up against the guardrail and keep them where they belong,” Yost told the Examiner.

According to reports, the Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling. A spokesperson for the Treasury Department told the Examiner that the agency remains “confident that the act is constitutional” and that it’s “committed to implementing [the measure] in a manner consistent with Congress’s direction so we can continue to promote a robust and equitable recovery.”

Only time will tell if the courts ultimately agree.

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