Battle for Ohio Supreme Court Heats Up as Democrats Seek to Flip Majority

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Supreme Court is once again at the center of a pivotal year as the interpretation of a new abortion rights constitutional amendment hangs in the balance. With three seats up for election this year, Democrats see an opportunity to flip the 4-3 court that has been dominated by Republicans for nearly four decades.

In the upcoming primary on March 19, Democrats will choose a nominee to challenge Republican Dan Hawkins in the general election. Incumbent Justices Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart are seeking re-election, while an open seat will also be contested. Two appeals court judges, Terri Jamison and Lisa Forbes, are vying for the Democratic nomination in the primary.

Jamison, a 10th District Court of Appeals Judge, brings a unique background to the race. Prior to her legal career, she worked as an underground coal miner and later ran her own insurance agency. She went on to obtain a business degree and attended Capital University Law School. Jamison’s experience as a county public defender and her focus on criminal, juvenile, domestic, and appellate work have shaped her perspective on the bench.

Forbes, an 8th District Court of Appeals Judge, began her career in politics and policy in Washington, D.C. before earning a law degree from Case Western Reserve University. After working in civil litigation for 27 years, she ran for a seat on the 8th District Court of Appeals in 2020. Forbes emphasizes a commitment to applying the law and following the facts in each case to ensure fairness. She also aims to protect individuals’ rights against government overreach and uphold the rule of law.

Both candidates face tough challenges financially, especially compared to their Republican opponent. Hawkins has reported a significantly larger campaign account compared to Forbes and Jamison. However, Forbes remains confident in her fundraising efforts and believes she will have enough resources to run a competitive campaign.

The Ohio Supreme Court plays a critical role in deciding on key issues such as reproductive rights, the new marijuana law, and redistricting. Jamison has expressed support for the Ohio Sentencing Data Project, a statewide database of criminal sentences aimed at promoting transparency and fairness in the justice system. Forbes, on the other hand, focuses on protecting democracy and upholding the rule of law.

If either Jamison or Forbes were to win a seat on the high court, they would make history as the third Black woman to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court. Out of the 163 justices who have served since 1803, only four have been Black and only thirteen have been women.

As the primary election date approaches, both candidates are eager to make their case to the voters and secure their party’s nomination. Ohioans will closely watch the Supreme Court race, as the outcome could have significant implications for the interpretation of the state’s abortion rights constitutional amendment and other influential issues.