Constitutional Offices
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Constitutional Offices

General Overview

The Constitutional Offices Section is legal counsel to all statewide elected officeholders, including the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, and Attorney General. The section also represents the General Assembly and certain branches of the judiciary, including the Ohio Supreme Court, the State’s district courts of appeals, and the Ohio Court of Claims. As a result, attorneys in the Constitutional Offices Section are highly experienced in defending state clients in high-profile, politically sensitive litigation, as well as Section 1983 civil rights cases, complaints in mandamus, and other civil actions.

Aside from state officeholders, the section represents several boards and commissions, including the Ohio Elections Commission, the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, and the Controlling Board, serving as counsel to 26 state clients. Through its representation of the Secretary of State and the Ohio Elections Commission, the Constitutional Offices Section has been at the forefront in landmark election-related litigation involving re-apportionment, ballot access, and campaign finance. Through its representation of the Governor and the General Assembly, the Constitutional Offices Section has successfully defended actions related to legislative appropriations and powers of the executive branch.

When “home rule” municipalities adopt laws that potentially conflict with state statutes, any resulting litigation is reviewed by attorneys in the Constitutional Offices Section. Similarly, any time the constitutionality of a state statute or local ordinance is challenged in a declaratory judgment action, the Constitutional Offices Section examines the suit and intervenes if necessary.

Public Records Unit

The Public Records Unit (PRU) is housed in the Constitutional Offices Section and consists of attorneys and administrative staff. The PRU receives inquiries from fellow AGO employees, clients, constituents, public offices, and the media, and provides guidance and non-legal advice to these individuals and offices regarding the Ohio Public Records Act and the Ohio Open Meetings Act. The Unit assists with the processing of public records requests received by the Attorney General’s Office. The Sunshine Laws Manual  or “Yellow Book” is written and updated annually by the PRU to provide public offices and the general public with a comprehensive guide to Ohio's Sunshine Laws. Additionally, members of the PRU provide mandatory certified public records training to elected officials, as well as informational public records training sessions to the general public throughout the state. For additional information on public records and open meetings, or to register for a training session, consult the Sunshine Laws page.

Initiative and Referendum

Through the initiative and referendum process, Ohio citizens are empowered to submit proposed constitutional amendments, statutory amendments, initiated statutes, or statutes for repeal directly to voters. Once petitioners have met the necessary initial requirements set forth in R.C. Chapter 3519, they may submit their proposed initiatives to the Constitutional Offices Section. Section personnel work directly with the county boards of election to verify signatures on initiatives, while section attorneys work with the Attorney General and his senior staff to evaluate the summary language. For additional information on the initiative and referendum process, consult the Ballot Initiatives page.