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Ohio Supreme Court to hear arguments on traffic cameras Wednesday

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear a big case on the red light and speed cameras that some 15 Ohio communities are using.

The issue is not whether setting up cameras to catch red light runners and speeders is legal. It’s about whether requiring appeals of traffic camera citations to be heard by administrative hearing officers instead of in municipal court is legal. That is how most cities across the country deal with appeals of traffic camera tickets.

Bradley Walker of Kentucky filed a lawsuit over the $120 ticket he got in Toledo in 2009, saying the law that says he must appeal to an administrative hearing officer is unconstitutional because the municipal court has jurisdiction. But the city says under the principle of home rule, municipalities can govern themselves, and that a hearing officer’s ruling can be appealed to the municipal court.

The cities of Cleveland, Columbus, East Cleveland, Dayton have filed briefs backing Toledo’s claims. The ACLU of Ohio and and the Tea Party backed 1851 Center for Constitutional Law are supporting Walker’s argument, along with a host of state lawmakers from both parties.

Meanwhile, there are three bills on traffic cameras in the Statehouse right now. An outright ban on those cameras passed the House last year, but hasn’t moved in the Senate. One other bill would require a police officer at each camera, and the Senate is expected to pass that one after the November election. The third bill is something of a compromise, and would put across-the-board regulations on those programs.