In a constitutional democracy the judicial branch is a bedrock institution that resolves disputes, ensures order by adjudicating criminal offenses, and protects the rights of minorities and individuals.
Judges are the officials in whom we trust these awesome responsibilities. Thus, there are few matters more important in our democracy than ensuring that we have a system in place that results in the best possible men and women serving on the bench.
What is the best way to do this in Ohio? Can we improve the system that we have?
Make no mistake, we enjoy one of the best systems of justice anywhere in the world. Extraordinarily talented and hard working people make up the Ohio judiciary, and the work they do every day is remarkable. But there are three reasons that I believe we can do even better.
- Polls show that the public views judges as susceptible to political influence.
- Voter participation in judicial elections on average is 25 percent less than participation in races for the executive and legislative branches.
- There is evidence that we can do more to educate and inform the electorate.
People have examined judicial selection nationally and in Ohio for decades. Chief Justice O’Connor’s plan draws on this research to propose eight ideas, and creates a mechanism for the public to come together to discuss these ideas and arrive at a final plan. This website provides resource material from past judicial selection forums, a bibliography of other resources on judicial selection (some of which are available in full text online and others of which are available in the Ohio Supreme Court’s Law Library), and a forum, where the public can share their thoughts and ideas on the plan. The goal is to have a final plan we all can support by the end of the year. Thank you for joining us in this important cause.