As young voters, we have the power to decide Ohio’s future

We can’t afford to sit out the state Supreme Court elections

November 5, 2022 11:45 am
A voting location

File photo of a voting location from Wikimedia Commons by Tom Arthur.

Following a term that saw the U.S. Supreme Court hand off the legality of abortion and other key issues to the states, Ohio courts have never been more decisive. In the coming year, our state Supreme Court could rule on everything from the future of abortion access to the preservation of LGBTQ+ rights and the protection of our right to vote under fair maps. And so much more!

The fact is, the rights and freedoms of every Ohioan will be on the ballot next month. Candidates running for our state Supreme Court – the most powerful court in Ohio – will be found at the bottom of the first column and the top of the second column on your ballots. Up for grabs, this year is the position of Chief Justice of the court and the seats of Republican Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer, who face re-election challenges from Democrats Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison, respectively. Should either incumbent lose, control of the court would shift. That’s how fine of a margin there will be in deciding what the future of the court looks like for the next few years.

Ohio judicial elections have been known for their low participation rates, with many voters opting to not fill out their ballots fully. That can’t happen again this year. The stakes are way too high.

Just consider the multitude of bills proposed this session by politicians that attack LGBTQ+ rights. One bill would ban gender-affirming care for minors who identify as transgender or non-binary while also forcing school counselors to out their own students to parents if they discover that the student is thinking about their gender in a manner that politicians view as “non-conforming.” Another bill would censor the discussion of any LGBTQ+ issues for all Ohio students from Kindergarten through the end of high school. Should either of these bills become law, the state Supreme Court will likely become our last line of defense in protecting LGBTQ+ rights.

And then there’s abortion. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, state courts and constitutions now play a much bigger role in determining reproductive healthcare. Abortion is still legal in Ohio, but not for lack of trying from politicians determined to strip us of our rights to our bodies, medical privacy, and healthcare. At present, the only thing standing between Ohioans and a six-week abortion ban is a ruling from a Hamilton County judge who found that our state Constitution protects the decision to get an abortion. Like many important cases, this case will likely end up at the door of our state Supreme Court. And that’s why it’s so critical that we elect fair and impartial justices who will defend our rights and freedoms instead of the interests of extremist political parties and partisan groups.

As if abortion and LGBTQ+ rights weren’t enough, our state’s highest court will also decide the pivotal issues of voting rights and fair maps. Ohio voting districts determine how much of our tax dollars go toward public transport, hospitals, and other necessary services. Fair district maps are also critical to ensuring that the voices of Black, brown, and immigrant Ohioans are heard.

Ohioans of every color, creed, background, and zip code can all agree that it should be voters who pick the leaders in our state, not the other way around. Elected officials shouldn’t be allowed to rig the redistricting process to their benefit, yet that’s precisely what’s been happening in Ohio for several years. Most recently, extremist politicians in charge of drawing our state maps have refused to act on several court orders demanding them to develop new maps that are fair and constitutionally sound. In 2023, they won’t be able to put off the redrawing any longer, but there’s no guarantee that the new court will still be in opposition to unfair, gerrymandered maps. It’s up to us to make sure they are.

The bottom line is that the future of our state Supreme Court matters far too much for Ohioans to sit out this election. Courts decide critical funding for our schools, the safety of our neighborhoods, and the quality of our water and air. They are the final defenders of our constitutional rights and freedoms. This November, do what’s right for your community and vote in our state Supreme Court elections. The future of Ohio depends on it.



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