SAINT LOUISVILLE, Ohio – Justice Judi French, one of Ohio’s seven Supreme Court Justices, reminded a couple hundred freedom-minded citizens from around the state at the Ohio Liberty Coalition’s meeting Saturday how important it is that they vote in every race on the ballot each election.
“How many of you voted for Trump because of the [United States] Supreme Court?” Justice French asked the audience. Nearly every hand went up. “In Ohio, you do it. You get to choose. You get to elect judges and justices at every level…Unfortunately many Ohio voters don’t take advantage of that opportunity.”
“In 2018, about 20 percent of voters in Ohio voted for Governor and then skipped the Ohio Supreme Court. That is hundreds of thousands of voters who simply did not vote for the Ohio Supreme Court Candidates,” French said.
Republicans lost two seats that election. Because of those results, Democrats had more than one seat on the Ohio Supreme Court when it convened after the midterm elections.
Justice French shared her belief that the reason the voters didn’t cast a vote for the Ohio Supreme Court was because they didn’t know the candidates. She expressed her frustration that voters didn’t bother to find the information they needed to become informed.
“Maybe they just do not know the impact a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court can have on their lives,” she posited. “The work of the Ohio Supreme Court impacts the life of every Ohioan and the bottom line of every Ohio business.”
She went on to list some of the areas into which the court must delve: small independent businesses, large corporations, taxes, public utilities, workers’ compensation, energy policy cases, tort liability, medical malpractice, which candidates and issues make it to the ballot and all levels of criminal issues from minor misdemeanors to death penalty cases.
“It’s important that we elect judges that have the experience, the integrity, and the work ethic to be effective,” shared French. “But more importantly you can see why it’s important to ensure that we elect justices that have the right philosophy. Justices who ensure that we won’t second guess the policy choices by our elected policy makers.”
French declared, “Supreme Court justices are not policy makers. Whether at the United States Supreme Court or the State Supreme Court, they should not be and cannot be making the law.”
“A ‘conservative’ is one who conserves her power. A conservative judge is one who stays within the bounds of Constitutional limitations and doesn’t try to second guess the policy decisions of other branches of government.”
That explanation by Justice French earned her an “Amen!” from one listener.
A liberal judicial candidate is an activist, French told the group. She explained the damage a majority of liberal activists can do when elected to a court. This occurred in Ohio when an activist majority ruled against legislatively enacted civil justice reform. They repeatedly struck down tort reform and damage limitations.
“That majority expanded insurance liability beyond any reasonable bounds. They did not just interpret the law, they created new law,” French said. The real consequences of the activism resulted in rising premiums for auto insurance and medical malpractice insurance.
Justice French noted that some of the confusion is likely the result of the non-partisan nature of the general election for judges. Although Ohio has a partisan primary for them, a judicial candidate’s party affiliation is not shown on the general election ballot. Ohio is one of only two states with this method of electing Supreme Court Justices.
She said State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) was authoring a bill to change that, but his office confirmed to The Ohio Star he had decided against the legislation earlier this year.
“I urge you to become involved in the 2020 races for Supreme Court Justices,” French said. And she gave a suggestion for how to remember the names of the two conservatives running for Ohio’s highest court: “KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kennedy, French, Conservative.”
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