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Published: Tuesday, 10/31/2006

Blade Endorsement: For Ohio Supreme Court

WHEN it comes to choosing justices for the Ohio Supreme Court, the issue of legal qualification is naturally a higher priority than where a candidate lives. But we still believe that some semblance of geographic diversity is important for the state's high court and it's a key reason why we endorse Robert Cupp in the Nov. 7 election.

Cupp Cupp

Judge Cupp, of Lima, currently a member of the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima, meets both criteria and more. In addition to his judicial experience, he has a solid background in local and state government that has broadened his outlook and will stand him in good stead on the Supreme Court.

His opponent, Ben Espy, a veteran Columbus attorney, served with distinction on Columbus city council and in the Ohio Senate, but he's never been a judge.

A native of Bluffton, Judge Cupp graduated near the top of his class in Ohio Northern University's college of law. He served as assistant law director and city prosecutor in Lima, then went on to four terms in the Ohio Senate before being elected to the appellate court in 2002.

While we cannot claim that having a justice on the Supreme Court would directly benefit northwest Ohio, the court has had a representative from the Toledo area for many years, a tradition that would end this year with the retirement of Justice Alice Robie Resnick.

O'Donnell O'Donnell

Based on Judge Cupp's record on the appellate court, we believe he has another vital qualification: that of independent arbiter of the law who would not legislate from the bench.

Our choice for the second Supreme Court seat is incumbent Terrence O'Donnell, whom we endorsed when he took on Justice Resnick in 2000, and in 2004, when he ran for and won the remainder of an unexpired term on the court to which he had been appointed in 2003. He is seeking his first full six-year term.

Justice O'Donnell, who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River, started as a Supreme Court clerk in the 1970s, practiced law, and served 14 years as a trial judge and eight years on appellate court. His legal credentials are impeccable.

While we have had our differences with Justice O'Donnell, particularly in the executive privilege case decided earlier this year, we prefer him to his opponent, William O'Neill, who is an avowed judicial activist. As the school funding fiasco showed, an activist court is a dangerous thing.

In sum, we believe Ohio will best be served if voters elect Robert Cupp to the Supreme Court and retain Justice Terrence O'Donnell.

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