Ohio Supreme Court Justice Seat to Be Filled by End of Year

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine plans to fill the seat on the Ohio Supreme Court by announcing his appointment by the end of the year.

DeWine said it’s critical for the new justice to be named by the end of the year so that they can start right away.

“The new justice should be able to sit with the other justices when there are oral arguments that are taking place,” DeWine said.

The Supreme Court of the State of Ohio is the highest court in the U.S. state of Ohio, with final authority over interpretations of Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution.

The Ohio Supreme Court has one chief justice and six justices, all elected to their positions. Beginning in 2022, party affiliation was added to the ballot. There are currently four Republicans Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Justice Sharon Kennedy, Justice Patrick Fischer, and Justice Patrick DeWine, and three Democrats Justice Michael Donnelly, Justice Melody Stewart, and Justice Jennifer Brunner on the Ohio Supreme Court.

O’Connor is stepping down at the end of the year due to Ohio’s age limit for judges. One may not run for a seat on any Ohio court if one is more than 70 years of age. This limit often forces the retirement of long-time justices. Kennedy will take over as chief justice, leaving her previous seat vacant.

Kennedy won her bid to become Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice against Brunner in the general election in November.

According to DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney, the governor’s legal team has been taking letters of interest for potential replacements and has been receiving calls of suggestions as to who should fill the empty seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.

“There are a lot of important cases coming up, and it’s important to (DeWine) it’s someone who respects the law. The governor wants judges who tend to try not to legislate from the bench, but interpret the law as written. Those are things he’s opined on with the U.S. Supreme Court so certainly that would not be a surprise if those are the things he emphasizes there,” Tierney said.

The appointed justice would have to run in the 2024 election for the rest of Kennedy’s term, which goes through December 31, 2026.

Those thought to be in consideration for the vacant seat are Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge Megan Shanahan, States Solicitor General Ben Flowers, and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Shanahan has been a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge since January 2015. Before that, she was a Hamilton County Municipal Court judge for four years, served five years as an assistant prosecutor in that county, and began serving five years as a Butler County assistant prosecutor.

Flowers has served as the state’s Solicitor General since 2019. Prior to that, he was an appellate litigator for three years at the Columbus law firm Jones Day and clerked for Antonin Scalia while he was a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Deters has never been a judge or magistrate before. He served as the prosecutor in Hamilton County from 1992 to ’99 and again starting in 2005. He was most recently elected to a five-year term in 2020 after serving two terms as Ohio treasurer.

If DeWine chooses to select a Republican to fill the vacant seat, the GOP will gain a 4 to 3 majority.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Ohio Supreme Court Building” by Sixflashphoto. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

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