GALLIPOLIS — Ohio First District Court of Appeals Judge Pat DeWine toured southern Ohio as he made stops Monday to spread the message of his campaign for a spot on the Ohio Supreme Court.
He also was in the area to spread his view of justice as a “constitutional conservative.”
“My judicial philosophy is someone who calls himself a constitutional conservative,” DeWine said. “I believe that judges should apply the law as written and shouldn’t be legislating from the bench. I think if we do that, we create an environment in this state where there is a stable, predictable legal backdrop so people can invest in the state, people can create jobs and people find opportunities in the state. I have extensive judicial experience on the court of appeals, but I’ve also been a common pleas court judge, so I understand how things really work in the trial court.”
DeWine said he had tried everything from low-level felonies to death penalty and civil cases. He said the practical experience of being a trial judge will aid him on the Ohio Supreme Court.
While serving as First District Court of Appeals judge, DeWine has been based out of Cincinnati. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati in its College of Law and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. He worked for 13 years practicing law with the Keating, Muething and Klekamp law firm. He graduated as part of the top 10 percent of his class from the University of Michigan Law School and earned his undergraduate at Miami University.
DeWine has also served on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners and the Cincinnati City Council.
“When I got out of law school, the first thing I did was clerk for a judge on the (federal) Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, ” he said. “I left there knowing that if I ever had I chance that I would like to be a judge at some point.
“You want thoughtful people on the (Ohio) Supreme Court, of course,” DeWine added. “I think judges have to be careful what their constitutional role is. That is to apply the law and interpret the law, not make the law. I think sometimes when judges become philosopher legislators, that is dangerous for our democratic system.”
DeWine said it is important to apply the letter of the law and not so much the spirit of the law.
“Really, at the end of the day, you don’t know what they (legislators) meant other than what they actually agreed on and what they said (in the written word), ” he said. “I often apply laws that I don’t agree with or think could be better or I would do differently. I’m not a policymaker, though, and don’t think judges should be policymakers. I think judges need to stick to what the law says.”
DeWine is competing against 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Rice for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.
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