CHICAGO - Ohio’s Supreme Court Friday declined to rule on the constitutionality of the state’s effort to privatize its liquor distribution system, rejecting a move by Gov. John Kasich to advance the $1.5 billion proposal.
The court’s ruling means the privatization plan, which has been stalled for months over litigation, will continue to wind its way through the lower court system.
In a 4-2 ruling Friday, the court dismissed the lawsuit brought by JobsOhio, the newly formed non-profit entity that wants to issue $1.5 billion of bonds to finance the purchase of the lucrative liquor distribution system.
The proposal calls for JobsOhio to give the state $500 million in upfront cash and use the rest of the proceeds and future revenue streams to finance economic development projects.
JobsOhio, in a prearranged plan with state officials, filed a so-called writ of mandamus in mid-August with the Supreme Court, hoping to speed up the litigation that has blocked the bond sale since early this year.
The mandamus was couched in terms of a dispute with state officials, but “actually seeks an expedited ruling from this court, so as to preclude any further challenges,” the court said.
“It appears beyond doubt that JobsOhio’s mandamus claim does not properly invoke the original jurisdiction of the court,” the majority opinion said. “We will not decide constitutional claims raised by parties who seek an advisory declaratory judgement for which they have adequate remedies in the ordinary course of law.”