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Lawsuit challenges Ohio law banning foreign nationals from donating to ballot campaigns

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new law banning foreign nationals and green card holders from contributing to state ballot campaigns in Ohio curtails the constitutionally protected rights of free speech and association, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the measure June 2, after lawmakers coupled it with a higher-profile bill adjusting Ohio’s election calendar in order to ensure Democratic President Joe Biden would appear on November ballots.

Lawyers at the Elias Law Group, a prominent Democratic law firm, and Cooper Elliott told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that HB 1 would “unconstitutionally impede public debate through the enforcement of new broad and sweeping prohibitions” on ballot issue spending.

“Because of HB 1, all noncitizens are now threatened with investigation, criminal prosecution, and mandatory fines if they even indicate they intend to engage in any election-related spending or contributions − including to support or oppose ballot questions in virtually any capacity,” according to the lawsuit.

The litigation argues the law, set to take effect Sept. 1, violates both the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

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