Ohio Supreme Court races of utmost importance

The Delaware Gaette

By Wezlynn Davis – Guest columnist

August 5, 2020

It’s so easy to get sucked into political rhetoric and headlines, especially around this time through early November during an election year. And in a highly polarizing and contentious presidential election year, we definitely won’t be in short supply of divisive political content in our news feeds.

However, we all believe that democracy is vital, and that our votes at the ballot box voice our opinion of how we want our future to be. But sometimes, we forget about or pay less attention to “down-ticket” races, or in many cases know nothing about them. Down-ticket candidates are lower-profile individuals running for offices that historically are listed toward the bottom of a ballot card.

Nowadays, you’ll find them on later pages at the digital voting box, while the high-profile races such as the presidential or governor’s races would be the first item on the first page. How many times have you been in the voting booth and on the eighth page on the digital screen you see candidates you haven’t heard of running for offices you don’t know much, if anything, about? It’s easy to lose sight of these races, especially when they don’t grab as many, or any, headlines in the local media. But it is vital to understand the importance these race outcomes have and how they affect your life.

There is a tremendous amount at stake this upcoming election in Ohio. Two Ohio Supreme Court seats on the ballot this November are without a doubt the biggest 2020 races at the state level. Judicial race candidates in Ohio don’t have party affiliation listed on the ballot, but Republican incumbent justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French are running for reelection against Democrats John O’Donnell, a Cuyahoga common pleas judge, and former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. But when it comes to the court, legal philosophy is more important than party affiliation. We see this proven all the time with U.S. Supreme Court decisions, where many decisions have a mix of Republican-appointed or Democrat-appointed justices on either side of a case.

My biggest worry as an Ohio business owner in this election is our state Supreme Court adopting the trend of judicial activism. In other words, it is highly unpredictable when judges take it upon themselves to change the interpretation of existing laws with their decisions, thereby creating new law. You may have heard the term “legislating from the bench” to describe this practice. We see this often at the federal level, when activist courts issue controversial decisions adopting new legal interpretations, which ultimately results in those decisions being challenged in appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

My point is, the legislature should be the one doing the legislating, especially when Ohio Supreme Court decisions – to our benefit or detriment – often catch us by surprise. I don’t know about you, but I’m not checking in on any basis to see what’s happening in the courts unless I see a headline on a decision that has already been made. Running my business is my life, and the last thing I want to worry about is how other people’s lawsuits can affect how I do business.

Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French have a proven legal philosophy on record that gives me the predictability I need in our legal system in Ohio, and by extension confidence to keep building my business and providing jobs to my employees.

This November, I urge you to cast your vote to reelect justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French to the Ohio Supreme Court.