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January 10th, 2024             Len’s Political Note #613 Ohio Supreme Court

2024                                         General Election

Ohio has been a Republican state.  Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown is up for election this November.  Except for the State Supreme court, he is the only Democrat in office as a result of a state-wide vote.

Until 2022, despite being nominated by political parties, in the general election judicial candidates were not identified by political party on the ballot.  In order to increase the likelihood of Republicans being elected to the Courts, the legislature changed the law.  For the first time, judicial candidates were identified by their political party.

Three members of the Ohio Supreme Court were up for election in 2022.  All three were Republicans.  Republicans had a 4-3 majority on the Ohio Supreme Court before the 2022 elections.  All three won, so the court remained 4-3.  It is a little more complicated than that because one of the candidates was an Associate Justice running for Chief Justice. And there is another complication.  The Republican legislation achieved its goal in 2022.  They got their Republican judges elected and reelected.

In 2024, one Republican and two Democratic Justices are up for election. Ohioans are now accustomed to candidates running as a bloc by party.   If there were a Democratic sweep, Democrats would have a 4-3 majority.  If there were a Republican sweep, Republicans would have a 6-1 majority.

In nearly every state, whether through state-wide referendums or through state supreme court decisions or through the legislature, two issues are on every ballot:  women’s right to an abortion (more broadly described as reproductive rights) and the gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional seats.

Ohio has been one of the most controversial sites for these heated conversations.  Regarding abortion rights, Ohio activists had ensured that a state constitutional amendment would be considered on November 7, 2023 to “provide that each individual has the right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.”  Afraid that the referendum would pass, the Republican state legislature scheduled a constitutional amendment referendum of their own for a vote on August 8, 2023,  The goal was to make passing constitutional amendments harder, to “Require a 60% vote to approve a constitutional amendment, [to] increase the signature distribution requirement’ and [to] eliminate the signature cure period.”

The August 8th proposal failed by a 57-43 margin.  The November 7th proposed amendment passed by a 57-43 margin.  As a result, in Ohio, men and women had a constitutional right to “make and carry out” their own “reproductive decisions.” ‘

Believing that the result was clear, abortion clinics asked a Cincinnati based judge to permanently block enforcement of a 2019 statute that prohibited abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy.  The state opposed that request, but the judge agreed. The state went to the Ohio Supreme Court, the Attorney General explaining that they were not seeking to block the will of the people, but only to “review each part of the law for an orderly resolution of the case,” The state supreme court dismissed the case “due to a change in the law.”

Even if there were a 6-1 Republican Supreme Court after the 2024 election, abortion rights have probably been preserved in Ohio.  But do not assume anything.

Currently, Ohioans are collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering “by removing politicians from the redistricting process and instead empowering Ohio citizens to draw fair and impartial legislative and congressional districts through an open and independent process.”

The Ohio Capital Journal has described the state as “one of the most extremely gerrymandered states in the country.  While Donald Trump carried the state with less than 54% of the vote in 2020, Republicans control 68% of seats in the state House, 78% in the state Senate, and 66% of the state’s seats in the US House of Representatives.”

A previous constitutional amendment had created a redistricting committee that recommended districts to the legislature.  Under that amendment, the State Supreme Court could not enforce its decision.  The Redistricting Commission and the legislature created redistricting proposals seven times. Each proposal was rejected by the 4-3 Republican Supreme Court.  The rejection was possible because the now retired Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice voted with the Democratic justices to disapprove gerrymandered plans.

The new constitutional amendment would create a 15 member Citizens Redistricting commission that includes Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, precludes current of former politicians, political party officials, lobbyists, and large political donors, and would require that its redistricting plan be followed.  If enough signatures are collected and this proposal is voted on and passed in November, 2024, the Supreme Court may have a lesser role on the issue of gerrymandering.  Let’s hope so. Regardless, who is on the State Supreme Court will remain crucial for the lives of Ohioans.

After dithering for a few months, Republicans have decided and announced who will be running for which seat Supreme Court seat.  Here is what the line-up looks like:

Incumbent Democratic Associate Justice Michael Donnelly will be opposed by Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan for a six-year term

Incumbent Democratic Associate Justice Melody Stewart will be opposed by Incumbent Republican Associate Justice Joe Deters for a six-year term

Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Babish Forbes will be opposed by Common Pleas Judge Dan Hawkins for a two-year term

Tomorrow, I will write more about these candidates.  If you want to take me on faith, DONATE NOW TO Michael Donnelly, Melody Stewart, and Lisa Babish Forbes. 




Wisconsin:        Democratic County Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated Republican former Justice Daniel Kelly in April, 2023 by an 11 point margin.

 Pennsylvania:   Democratic Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffrey defeated County Judge Carolyn Carluccio in November, 2023 by a 5.6 point margin



North Carolina:  Inc Associate Justice Allison Riggs v. Court of Appeals Judge Jefferson Griffin

Texas:                County District Judge Vinh Weems v. Inc Justice John Devine

Texas:                 Two Democrats are vying to run against     Inc Justice Jimmy Bland

Texas:                Two Democrats are vying to run against.    Inc Justice Jane Bland

Wisconsin April, 2025.   Inc Democratic Justice Ann Walsh Bradley v. County Circuit Court Judge Brad Schimel