Judge declines to block feds from enforcing COVID-19 stimulus restriction, agrees it’s likely unconstitutional

The Columbus Dispatch | Marc Kovac

A federal judge has denied a request from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to block the U.S. Treasury Department from enforcing restrictions on how states spend dollars from the latest federal coronavirus relief package.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas R. Cole ruled the preliminary injunction Yost sought was not needed at this time, but the state would likely succeed in its challenge of the constitutionality of tax provisions included in the American Rescue Plan Act.

Cole wrote “Ohio has established a substantial likelihood (although by no means a certainty) of success on at least an aspect of its Spending Clause claim, and that Ohio is currently suffering irreparable harm.”

Yost voiced vindication noting that the court agreed with the state’s core argument. 

“…The federal government does not have the right to tell the state’s what to do with its tax policy,” he said in a released statement. “Imagine if a conservative federal government requires states to reduce taxes as a condition for receiving emergency funding.”

Yost filed suit in mid-March against the U.S. Treasury Department, arguing that provisions included in the federal coronavirus relief law were unconstitutional and a “metaphorical gun to the head” for states.

Read the full story here.