Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Eagle Lands in the Supreme Court's Courtroom

There are some very innovative teaching tools being used to help educate students about government. Recently, fourth graders from New Albany 2-5 Elementary School in Franklin County wrote to Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. They were learning about Ohio history and government, and they sent a colorful picture of their school’s eagle mascot. They asked her to take a picture with the eagle and then describe where the eagle had “landed” and why it was important. The Chief Justice was more than happy to accommodate the request and posed with the eagle on the bench of the Supreme Court’s courtroom. Her letter back included information about the court. This 
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

is just one example of an entertaining project to spark students’ curiosity about a branch of government and involve students in the learning process.

There are some great resources available to teachers who are looking for ways to engage students, including the Supreme Court’s Visitor Education Center and the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education. A question for teachers in our state: What programs do you find useful in civics education?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The U.S. Military Veterans of the Ohio Supreme Court

On November 11, 1918, an armistice took effect during World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and Veterans Day was born. We continue to observe that day each year to give thanks to those who have fought for our country.

Forty-six of the 156 Ohio Supreme Court justices have military service in their backgrounds. The first chief judge, Return Jonathan Meigs, won distinction during the Revolutionary War, and eight other justices fought in the War of 1812: Jessup Couch, Samuel Huntington, Peter Hitchcock, Charles Sherman, Henry Brush, Reuben Wood, George Tod, and Gustave Swan.

Five justices volunteered for the Union cause during the Civil War: John Corwin, Thaddeus Minshall, Joseph Bradbury, John Shauk, and William Davis.

One justice, Edward Matthias, served in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The 11 World War I veterans are Coleman Avery, Benson Hough, Charles Zimmerman, Roy Williams, Robert Gorman, Gilbert Bettman, Robert Sohngen, Henry Middleton, Howard Bevis, Thomas Herbert, and Paul Herbert.

Twelve justices served in World War II: Kingsley Taft, John Peck, C. William O’Neill, Paul Brown, James J.P. Corrigan, Robert Leach, Frank Celebrezze, Asher Sweeney, Robert Holmes, Lloyd Brown, Louis Schneider Jr., and Clifford Brown.

Seven justices served in the military in the decades since World War II: Robert Duncan, David Dowd Jr., James Celebrezze, Andy Douglas, Craig Wright, Herbert Brown, and Francis Sweeney. 

The latest edition of CNO Review features an interview with current Justice William O’Neill, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War. You can read the article and see his video interview at

All U.S. military veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country will be honored on November 11 as the nation observes Veterans Day. We are proud to include our justices among them.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Women of the Court

Female Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court
A new portrait was unveiled this week in Washington D.C. that depicts the four women who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court: former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and current Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The portrait is located at the National Portrait gallery and was painted by artist Nelson Shanks.

The Ohio Supreme Court has had 10 women serve as justices. The first was Florence Allen, who served on the court from 1923 until 1934. It would be another 47 years before the second woman served on the bench. Blanche Krupansky was appointed to the bench in 1981. Since then, there have been eight more women either elected or appointed to the Supreme Court, including the state’s first female Chief Justice, Maureen O’Connor, who was elected in 2010. When I was elected as the 150th justice in 2004, Alice Robie Resnick, Deborah Cook, and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton had already been serving on the court. Yvette McGee Brown began her term in 2011.

It’s also important to note that since January 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court has had a continuous female majority. Here’s a picture taken last year in the Eighth District Courtroom under the historic phrase “This is a Government of Law Not of Men.”

Female Ohio Supreme Court Justices in 2012
Pictured left to right: Former Justice Yvette McGee Brown,
who lost in last year’s election; Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor;
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger; and Former Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton,
who retired last year.
Since that picture was taken, two new justices, Sharon Kennedy and Judith French, have joined the court to continue the 4-3 female majority.

I’m honored to have served with all of my colleagues, women and men, who are dedicated to the law.