COLUMBUS — The woman who successfully argued Ohio’s landmark school-choice case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the president of the Ohio State Bar Association, and the son of Attorney General Mike DeWine have all thrown their hats into the ring for appointment to the state Supreme Court.
Conspicuously absent from the list of resumes sent to Gov. John Kasich is that of current Justice Robert Cupp, the Lima Republican who lost his bid for a second six-year term on Nov. 6 at the hands of Democratic former appellate judge William O’Neill.
Justice Cupp opted not to seek appointment back to the court to fill the vacancy to be created at the end of the year by the resignation of Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.
The Republican governor’s office released the names of 13 judges and attorneys seeking the appointment:
— Judith L. French, a Columbus-based 10th District Court of Appeals judge who, as a deputy attorney general, successfully argued the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that determined it was constitutional to use taxpayer dollars to fund tuition grants for parents to send their children to private and religious schools.
— Patrick Francis Fischer, a Cincinnati-based 1st District Court of Appeals judge and Ohio State Bar Association board president.
— Pat DeWine, the newly elected 1st District appellate judge and a former Hamilton County Common Pleas judge.
— Craig R. Baldwin, a Licking County Common Pleas judge.
— Joyce A. Campbell, a Fairfield Municipal Court judge.
— Thomas W. Coffey, senior counsel with a Cleveland law firm.
— Douglas R. Cole, a Columbus law firm partner and a former state solicitor.
— Mary E. Donovan, a Dayton-based 2nd District Court of Appeals judge.
— Victor Haddad, a Clermont County Common Pleas judge.
— Matthew W. McFarland, a 4th District Court of Appeals judge in southern Ohio.
—Charles M. Miller, a Cincinnati law firm partner.
— Robert Paul Ringland, a 12th District Court of Appeals judge in southwest Ohio.
—James William Satola, formerly in private practice in the Cleveland area, but now self-employed.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Justice Cupp will not be considered for the appointment since he did not submit an application. He said it was also unlikely the governor would go outside the list when filling his first Supreme Court vacancy.
Justice Stratton announced her retirement in May to free herself to more fully advocate on issues important to her, such as mental health, adoption, and veterans' support. She set her departure date for the end of the year to give Mr. Kasich time to find a replacement.
Her successor would complete the two years left in her six-year term and would have to face voters in 2014 to stay on.
Justice Cupp issued a written statement indicating he would not apply, noting there are still cases pending before the court in which the state is a party or would be affected by the outcome.
“To avoid any appearance that my decision in such cases may be influenced by a desire to be appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy and to best serve public confidence in the independence of the Supreme Court, I will not apply for the Governor’s appointment to that position,” he said.
In addition to Justices Stratton and Cupp, there is one other immediate turnover on the court pending, although the end result is still expected to be a 6-1 Republican court.
The sole Democrat on the current bench, Justice Yvette McGee Brown, had been appointed to a vacancy on the bench nearly two years ago by then Gov. Ted Strickland. But she lost her bid for voter ratification of that decision to Butler County Domestic Relations Judge Sharon Kennedy, a Republican.
Unlike Justices Cupp and Stratton, who will leave at the end of the year, Judge Kennedy will become Justice Kennedy on Dec. 7 once the final election results are certified. Justice Brown was completing an unexpired term rather that seeking a full term of her own.
The only incumbent justice left standing on Election Night was Republican Justice Terrence O’Donnell, who won election to his second full term.
The name of state Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills) had been bantered about for the justice opening, but he did not apply. Mr. Wagoner is leaving the Ohio Senate at the end of the year.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.
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