COLUMBUS — Voters will soon get a chance to determine the future makeup of the Ohio Supreme Court, as three seats on the seven-member court are up for election in what will be the first year that candidates’ party affiliation is on the ballot.
The change comes four months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, one of several contentious issues the Ohio Supreme Court will likely be asked to weigh in the coming years as state lawmakers consider abortion restrictions.
The six candidates vying for the positions include four sitting judges — two of whom have filed to replace retiring Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor — and two appeals court judges.
Candidates for chairman
Jennifer Brunner: Brunner, a Democrat, was first elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020.
She served six years as a Franklin County Court of Appeals judge and five years as a Franklin County Common Pleas Judge before joining the state’s highest court. She became the first Ohio woman to be elected Secretary of State in 2006.
Bruner, who vowed not to accept campaign contributions from utilities after the House Bill 6 corruption scandal, calls herself a “staunch defender of the independence of the judiciary.”
She supported efforts to make courts more accessible through remote hearings, provide transgender people with access to legal documents that reflect their gender identity, and “eradicate systemic racism” in the justice system through initiatives such as bail reform, criminal conviction databases, and criminal record reform. , according to her company’s website.
“When the democratic rule of law works well, there is security, predictability and sometimes an environment where people can seek happiness and imagine and write their own future stories,” she said. told Ohio Bar Association. “The courts are at the heart of it, and lawyers help make the rule of law work in that environment. I am committed to a healthy legal state that wins the respect of those who consent to be governed.”
Sharon Kennedy: Kennedy, a Republican, was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 2012.
Kennedy began her career as an officer with the Hamilton Police Department, later transitioning to a legal career that included 12 years as a magistrate and administrative judge in the Butler County Common Pleas Court.
Kennedy, who also supports efforts to expand virtual hearings, describes her judicial philosophy as judicial restraint.
“Courts have the power to declare laws unconstitutional and to review the actions of other branches of government and administrative agencies and determine whether their actions are consistent with constitutional authority … But courts do not have the power to enact legislation or order the General Assembly to enact specific legislation,” Kennedy told Ohio Bar Association.
“And the courts, while possessing contempt powers, do not have the enforcement powers that the executive branch possesses.”
The governor will appoint another judge to replace the winner of the race for chief judge.
Candidates for the courts of the Supreme Court
Pat DeWine: DeWine, a Republican and sitting judge, is in his first term as a Supreme Court justice.
The former appeals court judge, who spent four years on the First Circuit Court of Appeals and four years as a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge, describes his judicial philosophy as interpreting, not making, the law.
“I share the view that judges are not given a broad mandate to solve society’s problems as they see them, but rather to solve the cases before them according to the rule of law,” he said. told bar.
When it comes to the court’s role in the political process, DeWine said the court’s role is limited as long as lawmakers, the governor and others are “operating within their constitutional constraints.”
“When another branch of government violates individual rights guaranteed by our constitutional system, or exceeds the powers granted by our constitution, it is appropriate for the judicial system to intervene to enforce constitutional guarantees.” “However, the court must be careful not to violate the constitutional duties of other, more democratic branches of government.”
Marilyn Zayas: Zayas, a Democrat, has been an appellate judge for the First Circuit Court of Appeals since 2016, becoming the first Hispanic judge elected to serve on the Ohio Court of Appeals.
Zayas was already at the Supreme Court as a visiting judge in 2018.
“You can trust that I will faithfully apply the law and our constitution equally to everyone, regardless of outside influences or politics,” Zayas said on her campaign website.
Zayas expressed support for reform efforts such as the court’s sentencing database and bail reform.
“The independence and integrity of the judiciary is essential to ensure that the courts serve as safeguards of our constitutional rights and privileges, prevent executive and legislative encroachments on our rights, and ensure equal protection for all,” she said. told advocacy in response to the court’s role in the political process.
Pat Fisher: Fisher, a Republican and sitting judge, is in his first term on the Supreme Court after serving six years as a judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Fisher describes his judicial philosophy as textualism.
“Courts must apply the law when the question of constitutionality is not as written in the facts of the case,” he said. told bar. “The courts should remain a separate branch of government, leaving the legislature to the legislature and enforcement to the executive.”
Terry Jamison: Jamieson, a Democrat, has been an appellate judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2021. She served seven years as a Franklin County District Court judge before joining the Tenth Circuit.
Jamieson described her judicial philosophy as focusing on the original intent of the law and the facts of the case.
“My philosophy is that a judge should not depend on public opinion or campaign contributions,” Jamieson said on his company’s website, noting that courts must consider unintended consequences of legislation.
Jamieson has expressed support for technology upgrades and reform efforts such as Ohio’s criminal conviction database and alternative juvenile detention.
When it comes to the role of the court in politics, Jamieson told bar that “courts should stay out of the political fray” and that “courts should never be seen as partisan organizations seeking to tilt the scales of justice in favor of a political party.”