Three of the Ohio Supreme Court’s seven justices, Republicans ROBERT CUPP and TERRENCE O’DONNELL and Democrat YVETTE McGEE BROWN, are seeking new six-year terms this fall. All have earned retention by state voters.
Then-Gov. Ted Strickland named Justice Brown to the high court in January 2011 to fill an unexpired term. She was Mr. Strickland’s running mate in his failed bid for re-election in 2010.
Ms. Brown is the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and the first African-American of either gender on the court in nearly 40 years. Before that, she was a judge in Franklin County and an executive at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The Ohio State Bar Association calls Justice Brown “highly recommended,” its second-highest rating.
Ms. Brown’s Republican challenger, Sharon Kennedy, is a former police officer, lawyer, and domestic-relations court judge in Butler County. The state bar rated her “not recommended,” its lowest rating. Justice Brown is the clear choice.
Justice O’Donnell was appointed to the high court in 2003 and is seeking a second full term. He previously practiced law and served as a trial judge and state appeals court judge.
His Democratic challenger, freshman state Sen. Michael Skindell, served in the Ohio House and on the Lakewood City Council. A personal injury lawyer, his judicial experience consists of 10 years as a hearing officer with the Ohio Department of Health.
It’s a close call, but Justice O’Donnell’s three decades of judicial and legal experience gives him a slight edge.
Justice Cupp is seeking a second term on the high court. Before that, he was a judge on the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeals in Lima, spent 16 years in the state Senate, and was an Allen County commissioner and Lima prosecutor.
His Democratic opponent, William O’Neill, is making his third Supreme Court run. He is a pediatric emergency nurse who retired from the Warren-based 11th District Court of Appeals in 2007.
Judge O’Neill’s campaign is self-financed; he says he’s running against the influence of money on judicial elections. He believes the Supreme Court erred 15 years ago when it declared Ohio’s method of funding public schools unconstitutional but did not provide a remedy. His activism is admirable, but the high court is not the place for it.
Mr. Cupp says he believes in sticking to the “plain meaning of the law,” but adds that such adherence should not be taken to “absurd” conclusions. The state bar rates him “highly recommended.” He is the better choice.
Republicans now have a 6-1 advantage on the state Supreme Court. Returning to partisan balance is desirable, but rewarding proven competence is more important.
Ohio voters should retain Justices YVETTE McGEE BROWN, ROBERT CUPP, and TERRENCE O’DONNELL.