Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Anti-Resnick ad pulled, replaced

By Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — A business-backed group working to defeat Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick on Tuesday pulled a commercial that asked if her integrity was for sale.

        As soon as the controversial ad left the airwaves, Citizens for a Strong Ohio broadcast a new spot. This one says Justice Resnick is bad for public education.

        Showing college students in class, the commercial says the Toledo Democrat tried to throw out a state law that made professors spend more time teaching.

        “The United States Supreme Court stood up for common sense and overturned Resnick's opinion,” the commercial claims.

        Justice Resnick is seeking a third term against Republican Cuyahoga County Appellate Judge Terrence O'Donnell. The new ad is the latest example of how special-interest groups have taken over their campaign in a multimillion-dollar fight for the high court.

        Citizens for a Strong Ohio sparked an intense ethical debate last week over an ad that asked “Is Justice for Sale in Ohio?” The commercial called Justice Resnick a pawn for trial lawyers and union leaders who donated thousands to her campaign.

        David Leland, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, said the new ad is similar to the old one in that it manipulates fact to distort the judge's record.

        “This case concerns the working conditions of college professors, not education and not our children,” Mr. Leland said.

        The commercial focuses on a 1993 law that gave universities more power to set professors' class workloads. After a group of Central State University professors sued, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the law violated state labor protections.

        That decision, which Justice Resnick wrote, was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court 8-1. The justices said the state law legally supersedes labor protections.

        On education issues, however, Justice Resnick is better known for writing two 4-3 opinions that declared the state funding system for public schools inadequate.

        Chip McConville, a lobbyist for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and leader of Citizens for a Strong Ohio, said the ad sends an accurate and important message.

        “Education funding is probably the most complex issue in the state of Ohio,” he said. “This one case is real easy to understand.”


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