- DeWine halted additional federal unemployment benefits, citing concerns from companies struggling to fill jobs.
- At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits
- Ohio prosecutors are calling the verdict “a victory for the state.”
The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a case over whether Gov. Mike DeWine had the authority to cut an additional $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits.
The one-sentence decision dismissed the case as “contentious.” Without a court order requiring the federal government to withhold those additional unemployment benefits, it was not clear if the money still existed.
“Because the case has been declared adversarial, the case is closed,” said Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “No lower court has granted exoneration to the challengers, and now no court can. This is a victory for the state.”
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits. This sum was later reduced to $300 per week in December 2020.
In June 2021, DeWine halted these additional federal unemployment benefits, citing concerns from companies that were struggling to fill positions.
Several unemployed sued, saying DeWine does not have the authority to unilaterally remove benefits that the federal government has been offering Ohio residents through September 6, 2021.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Holbrook initially ruled that DeWine had the authority to stop making those payments. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision and asked Holbrook to consider additional factors. But Holbrook couldn’t go ahead because the state appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
During the hearing, Judge Pat Fischer asked whether this case was contentious.
Chief Deputy Solicitor Michael Hendershot replied: “Because we don’t know, with assurances from the Department of Labor, whether the money is still there or not, the legal ramifications of the 10thth The district’s decision is still something we can reverse.”
Former Attorney General Marc Dann, who represented Ohioans suing for benefits, said they would continue to fight for Ohioans suing for benefits.
“Our understanding is that the services budgeted by Congress are still available,” Dann said. “We will continue the fight to ensure every affected person is paid.”
Judge Pat DeWine withdrew from the case involving his father’s decision as governor. Instead, Judge Emanuella Groves of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals filled out.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which oversees the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.