An Ohio Supreme Court candidate spent part of Wednesday visiting northwest Ohio.
Pat DeWine — son of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a first-term judge on Ohio’s 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and former Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge — is one of two candidates seeking the seat to be vacated by Justice Judith Lanzinger. (Lanzinger must step down due to mandatory age limitations because she turned 70 this year.)
On Wednesday, DeWine visited Toledo, spoke at a Wauseon Rotary Club lunch event and met with Republicans in Defiance at the law offices of Weaner, Yoder, Hill and Weber, Ltd., where he provided an exclusive interview to The Crescent-News.
DeWine has been campaigning for awhile, noting that he visited all of Ohio’s 88 counties last year. Although there are some things he doesn’t enjoy about campaigning for the supreme court, he doesn’t seem bothered by it generally.
“I think that the ability to elect the Ohio Supreme Court is an important right people in Ohio have,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing that we’re accountable to the people. There’s parts of it I don’t like … . I don’t like being in the car for four hours, but the actual part like going out and talking to people, meeting people, I think gives you a perspective that if you just sit in your office and don’t ever go out to talk to people you don’t have. You learn a lot when you talk to people.”
How does he describe himself philosophically?
“I call myself a constitutional conservative,” DeWine stated. “I’m someone who believes the role of a judge is to apply the law as it’s written. I don’t believe in legislating from the bench. I don’t think judges’ role is to make the law. The role of a judge is to apply the law as it’s written. I think we do that by looking at what is the text of the law in front of us and applying the literal meaning of those words.”
He believes this sets him apart from his opponent, Cynthia Rice, a Democrat.
“From a philosophy standpoint, she’s been quoted as saying that she believes in a living constitution which I think means that you believe the constitution changes over time … ,” said DeWine. “I believe we ought to apply the language of the constitution, and if people want to amend the constitution there’s a process … to do that, but I don’t think judges should be the ones amending the constitution.”
DeWine brushes aside an unflattering rating from the Ohio State Bar Association in February, calling it political. While Rice received a “highly recommended” designation, DeWine was given a “not recommended” rating.
“Unfortunately, that was a very political process I think,” he said. “If you compare our resumes and backgrounds, what you’ll see is that I have much broader experience than what she does. She’s been an appellate judge, but I have been both a trial court judge and an appellate judge. In addition to that, I’ve been a (Hamilton) county commissioner, (Cincinnati) city council person, so I understand how the decisions we make in the judiciary impact the lives of real people in the other branches of government.”
Does name recognition — boosted by his father’s time as lieutenant governor, two terms as a U.S. senator for Ohio and current term as attorney general — help him?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think certainly it’s not a bad thing, it’s a familiar name, but I think ultimately people are going to make their own decisions.”