COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Supreme Court of Ohio condemned a statement by the Ohio Republican Party, which she said “disparaged the integrity” of Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye.
On Tuesday, Frye ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose can’t limit county boards of elections to a single ballot drop box.
Secretary LaRose’s office says it plans to appeal drop box ruling.
The Ohio Republican Party released a statement, which said in part:
“After the corruption and deceit we have seen from the Ohio Democrats, it comes as now surprise to see they have colluded with a Democrat Common Pleas Court judge regarding a ruling on ballot drop boxes . . . the judge in question parroted his party’s talking points in his ruling.”
Chief Justice O’Connor responded Wednesday by strongly condemning the Ohio Republicans who wrote the statement about Frye.
Every one of Ohio’s 722 judges, 800 magistrates, and numerous active-retired judges should be greatly concerned and voice their dismay at the irresponsible Republican Party allegation that politics controlled the judge’s decision. This is a blatant and unfounded attack on the independence of the Ohio judiciary.
Contrary to the statements in this, disgraceful, deceitful piece, judges don’t decide cases based on partisanship. That would be easy. It is also a mistake to say that there is not a legitimate case in controversy. The only thing clear about this matter is that the law is not clear, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate interpretation of the statute will be.
To accuse a judge of deciding the matter before him on partisan politics and further accuse the judge of “obstruction of his judicial responsibility” is without merit and is meant to further the false narrative that judges have no conscience, no legal responsibilities, and no capacity to decide what the law is beyond the raw politics of the issue.
The Republican Party’s statement should be seen for what it is: part of a continuing string of attacks against any decision that doesn’t favor a political end, regardless of party, even if that decision may be legally correct and indeed legally required.
I will not address the merits of the lower court’s decision. The case may very well find its way to the Supreme Court of Ohio, and I would be asked to weigh in then. I will retain my independence and sit on the Court to hear the matter if it does.
Attacks on the judiciary only serve to undermine the public’s confidence in the courts. Attacks such as these, no matter the source, reflect poorly, not on the judiciary, but on the leadership of those who would perpetrate them.Maureen O’Connor, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice