Friday, May 25, 2001

Ohio law challenged as intrusive; keg buyers get grilled

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A civil rights group and a college professor intend to sue the state today over a requirement that buyers of five or more beer kegs must register their parties and sign a form permitting police onto their property.

        The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said it plans to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Scott Hooper, arguing that the rule is unconstitutional because it violates guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures.

        “It's a bad precedent that we don't want — to have people who are buying legal products signing away their rights to do so,” Mr. Hooper said Thursday. “It's giving police permission to enter the property without a warrant and without probable cause, and that is just wrong.”

        In August, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission began requiring people who want to buy five or more kegs to register their parties and wait five days to get the beer.

        Buyers must give the location of the party to beer distributors and must sign an affidavit allowing liquor agents and police to enter the property to enforce state liquor laws.

        Chuck Sanfilippo, executive director of the Liquor Control Commission, said party organizers have the right to ask officers to leave and obtain a search warrant. He declined further comment.

        The lawsuit will claim the requirement violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring law enforcement officials to secure warrants based on probable cause, said Jillian Davis, staff counsel for the ACLU-Ohio.

        Mr. Hooper, a neurobiology professor at Ohio University, said he volunteered to be the plaintiff in the lawsuit because he became upset about the “blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment.”


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