LIMA — Mary DeGenaro, a sitting Ohio Supreme Court associate justice who is seeking her first elected term on the high court bench, was the guest speaker Friday at the monthly luncheon hosted by the Allen County Republican Party.
DeGenaro was appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the court in January of this year to replace Democrat William O’Neill, who resigned his seat in favor of what turned out to be an ill-fated bid to capture his party’s nomination for governor.
With DeGenaro’s appointment, the GOP gained control of all six associate justice seats on the court. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is also a Republican.
Two seats on the court will be decided in the November general election. DeGenaro is seeking a new six-year term of her own and will be challenged by Melody Stewart, a Democrat and current judge on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cleveland. The other race to be decided by voters pits two newcomers seeking to fill the seat on the bench currently held by associate justice Terrence O’Donnell. Democrat Michael Donnelly will square off against Republican Craig Baldwin in that race.
Speaking to the GOP faithful on Friday, DeGenaro spoke on how the U.S. Constitution protects the fundamental rights of citizens through the separation of power among three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.
“It falls on the judiciary branch to be the protector of the constitution,” said DeGenaro. “A judge cannot be swayed by public opinion and must exercise judicial restraint from the bend. It is not for a judge to decide if a law is unwise or won’t work. Judges must be disciplined and stay on the rule of law, not be dragged down the rule of man.”
DeGenaro said U.S. citizens are blessed with self-governance that is envied throughout the free world.
“And we need to protect that for the next generation. We especially need to protect a fair and independent judiciary,” she said.
She asked Allen County Republicans for their votes and reminded them that her name will carry no party affiliation on the November ballot. Judges are elected in general elections on a non-partisan basis.
Allen County GOP Party Chairman Keith Cheney told those in attendance that DeGenaro’s speech was decidedly generic because judicial canons bar candidates from discussing specific issues upon which they may be asked to rule.
But Cheney told the gathered Republicans that he has known DeGenaro for five years or more, “and her ideas and values align with us — without exception.”