The Ohio State Bar Association’s (OSBA) Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee today announced that all four of the candidates running for the Supreme Court of Ohio have signed its “clean campaign agreement.”
Maxine Thomas, of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation and chair of the OSBA’s Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee, confirmed that Judge Craig Baldwin, Justice Mary DeGenaro, Judge Michael P. Donnelly and Judge Melody Stewart, have agreed to conduct their campaigns in accordance with the agreement and in line with the guidelines in Cannon 4 of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.
Judicial elections are different in many respects from elections to executive and legislative positions. A judge is not seeking to “represent” constituents in the same sense that nonjudicial officials do, and, by virtue of their judicial oaths, judges must be prepared to administer justice to all in a non-partisan manner and to retain an open mind on issues or matters that may come before them.
Since 2002, the Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee has monitored election advertising in Ohio Supreme Court elections, speaking out when it has encountered communications that impugn the integrity of the court or attempt to lead people to think a candidate might decide a case in a predetermined manner. As part of the process, the Committee asks each candidate to take personal responsibility for the content of advertisements or statements they or their authorized committees issue, and to publicly disavow ads from other sources that run afoul of the pledge.
“I want to thank the four candidates and their committees for working with us to maintain the highest standards in judicial elections,” Thomas said. “We believe the public and our judicial system at large are best served when judicial campaigns focus on candidates’ credentials, experience, and temperament. This allows Ohio voters to make better informed decisions at the ballot box and ultimately, to send fair and impartial jurists to the bench.”
OSBA President Robin Weaver noted that the OSBA Judicial Election Advertising Monitoring Committee and the “clean campaign agreement,” have played an important role in refocusing the tone and conduct of Supreme Court elections in Ohio.
“At the time the committee was established, Ohio had earned some notoriety for the partisan nature of its Supreme Court elections and the role of special interests in seeking to influence the bench,” Weaver said. “The OSBA felt a responsibility then, just as it does today, to step up and do our part to promote and uphold public trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. This is a role we take very seriously.”
In addition to the work of the Judicial Election Advertising Monitoring Committee, the OSBA, through its bipartisan Commission on Judicial Candidates, will be issuing ratings of the four Supreme Court candidates in coming weeks.