Sense of hope from Ohio’s chief justice

Ohio state Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has a point. And, knowing her age means her time in that seat is coming to an end, it appears she feels freer to make it.

Last week, she used her last annual judiciary speech to say the state of Ohio’s efforts to curb gerrymandering are not working, and voters once again must amend the constitution to take politics completely out of the process.

“Now I’m not going to lose an election again, we know that for sure,” O’Connor joked. “And if I can stick out 105 more days I think I’ve got a new record for the state of Ohio.”

Though it is a shame to see her go, it is encouraging that she is using these last days on the job to say what so many Ohioans understand to be true. Those tasked with drawing up constitutional voting district maps intentionally failed to do the job voters expected of them; and something has got to change.

Most will remember that O’Connor was consistently the deciding vote against proposed maps redrawn by Ohio lawmakers each time the maps came to the Ohio Supreme Court for a test of their constitutionality.

O’Connor suggests the Ohio Redistricting Commission members should be “sensible people who are not driven by politics but rather by what’s fair,” as she called for “fair representation and justice.”

It is encouraging to know O’Connor plans to spend some time once she has left the state Supreme Court working toward getting just such an amendment for Ohio.

Sadly, it seems the very purpose of members of the commission blatantly thumbing their noses at Ohio voters was to make it harder to achieve what is best for Ohioans, rather than what is best for a small but shamefully powerful group of politicians. Still, there is hope enough people will take O’Connor’s words to heart that such obstacles can be overcome. We certainly must try.


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