ICYMI: Cleveland.com Editorial: Three Ohio Justices Err in Revealing Views on Abortion Issues Likely to Come Before Them
October 21, 2022
Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, the Cleveland.com editorial board today took the three Republican Supreme Court justices on the ballot this November to task for making their anti-choice opinions known as abortion lawsuits are set to reach the court as early as next year. The GOP justices have also been endorsed by Ohio Right to Life, which has made clear that they will not support candidates that support rape and incest exceptions to abortion bans. It’s just the latest reminder that abortion is on the ballot this November, and if the extreme Republicans on the court are all re-elected, Ohioans’ reproductive freedoms will be ripped away from them.
“In a year when a flurry of abortion litigating and legislating was to be expected in Ohio, the decision by these three justices to share their personal abortion views in this way cannot help but further erode trust in the judiciary — and increase the perception that justice in Ohio is far from blind, fair and impartial,” writes the Cleveland.com editorial board.
Read more from Cleveland.com HERE and below:
- In early March, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling expected to fall that spring, three sitting Ohio Supreme Court justices — all of whom are on the ballot this year — answered a questionnaire from Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati on their legal philosophies and views on abortion, as well as other issues.
- Among the questions they answered were ones that bore on whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided, when life begins and whether the Ohio Constitution includes any provision “intended to require the use of public funds for abortion.”
- But Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, who is running for chief justice, and Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, who are running for re-election, had no problem answering “Agree” to all three questions, although Kennedy annotated her Roe answer to note that Roe was (at that point) the law of the land. Pat DeWine’s annotation to that question said, “The text of the Constitution does not reference a right to abortion.” Fischer similarly wrote, “The right of privacy is not written in the text of the U.S. Constitution.”
- None of them annotated their “Agree” to the question on life beginning at fertilization. On the issue of whether there’s an Ohio constitutional provision intended to require public funding of abortion, Kennedy wrote she knew of no such provision and Fischer that “there is no such text in the Ohio Constitution.” DeWine answered “Agree” without annotation.
- Why is this significant? Because the Ohio Supreme Court is expected to take up important legal questions bearing on abortion soon. One such case was filed at the Ohio Supreme Court in June, after Roe was overturned and a judge allowed Ohio’s abortion “heartbeat” law to take effect.
- That is, the justices’ answers on constitutional rights to abortion, to when human life begins and to Ohio constitutional provisions bearing on funding of abortions all could be relevant in this case — which will eventually find its way to the state high court — and in similar legal cases.
- How can litigants expect a fair shake if three of the court’s current seven justices have offered their personal legal opinions already on these matters — without noting explicitly that these were their personal views and that they would set them aside to apply the law?
- Arguably, three sitting Ohio Supreme Court candidates just offered their views on the substance of abortion matters likely to come before them.
- In a year when a flurry of abortion litigating and legislating was to be expected in Ohio, the decision by these three justices to share their personal abortion views in this way cannot help but further erode trust in the judiciary — and increase the perception that justice in Ohio is far from blind, fair and impartial.