In case you missed it, the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) released their ratings of the candidates running for Supreme Court earlier this week. The ratings, which are the result of an evaluation conducted by a 25-member panel of OSBA members, are typically a talking point for judicial candidates. With no party affiliation on the ballot and justices being mostly barred from discussing how they might rule on specific cases, the ratings are one way to distinguish one candidate from the next. Of course, ensuring a candidate will refrain from legislating from the bench by evaluating their judicial philosophy is the most important consideration. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (OCCPaC) has already made that evaluation this year.
There are four ratings that can be awarded. The highest is “Superior,” followed by “Highly Recommended,” “Recommended,” and “Not Recommended.” If you would like to know the details on how the ratings are assigned, it is explained in the OSBA press release.
In what is expected to be the more competitive race of the two this year, OCCPaC-endorsed candidate Justice Judi French received a rating of “Highly Recommended,” as did her opponent, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell.
In the other race, Justice Sharon Kennedy, who like French is also endorsed by OCCPaC, declined to participate in the evaluation. In 2012, Justice Kennedy was surprisingly given a “Not Recommended” rating, while her opponent, former Justice Yvette McGee Brown, was rated “Highly Recommended.” That was likely a factor in her decision to not meet with the panel this time around. In the end though, and this may speak to the true value of the ratings, Kennedy still defeated Brown 57-43 percent.
Justice Kennedy’s opponent this year, state Rep. Tom Letson, was given a “Not Recommended” rating, so Kennedy lost nothing by not participating.