COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich on Thursday named a fellow Republican to fill an open seat on the Ohio Supreme Court in a move spurred by a crowded governor’s race.
Judge Mary DeGenaro sits on the 7th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Youngstown, where she has twice been that court’s presiding judge. DeGenaro, of Poland in suburban Youngstown, also has temporarily sat on the Ohio Supreme Court when justices have excused themselves from cases.
DeGenaro, 56, fills the seat to be left vacant Friday by retiring Justice William O’Neill, a Democrat running for governor. He faces four other candidates in the May primary.
DeGenaro’s selection means the seven-person court is now completely Republican, and once again has a majority of female justices with four.
Kasich said he asked DeGenaro if she looks at the law as a Republican or Democrat. She told him political considerations don’t matter, according to the governor, who praised her response because of how divided the country is.
“We need to find people who can look at the law, understand the constitution, make an interpretation on the bench that is not going to be viewed as a partisan determination,” Kasich said.
DeGenaro said she’s humbled by the opportunity.
“I will do my part to ensure the public continues to have confidence in their Supreme Court, where the rule of law and the protection of our precious constitutional rights are the guiding principles,” she said.
DeGenaro is a graduate of Cleveland State’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and a former private practice attorney. She was elected to the appeals court in 2000.
She also is a beekeeper, the governor said.
“If anybody were to question her, she knows what it’s like to be stung,” Kasich said. “I would warn any of those that attempt to put pressure on her, that it won’t work.”
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus