Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Ohio Supreme Court’s Female Majority in the Minority Nationwide

Image of the current Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court

Standing from left to right: Justice Judith L. French, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, Justice William M. O'Neill. Seated from left to right: Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, Justice Terrence O'Donnell.

Image of the current Chief Justice and Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court

Standing from left to right: Justice Judith L. French, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, Justice William M. O'Neill. Seated from left to right: Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, Justice Terrence O'Donnell.

Each March, the contributions of women are celebrated during National Women’s History Month. One of the Buckeye State’s historic milestones concerns Ohio Supreme Court Justice Florence E. Allen, who was the first woman elected to a U.S. court of last resort in 1922.

More than 90 years later, the Ohio Supreme Court is in the minority among the 50 states’ supreme courts in that it has a female majority. Seven other states have more women than men on their highest courts. Like Ohio, the top courts in California, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have four women among seven justices. Two states – Idaho and Iowa – do not have any women serving on their supreme courts.

In the 200-plus-year history of the Ohio Supreme Court, only 10 of the 156 justices have been women, and four of those are on the current bench.

The Ohio Supreme Court is amid its longest sustained period with a female majority on the bench. While the membership has changed, the current record-setting female majority began on January 1, 2011. Yvette McGee Brown began her term after being appointed to Justice Maureen O’Connor’s former seat after O’Connor won election as chief justice. Rounding out the majority at that time were Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Judith Ann Lanzinger. Not quite two years later, Sharon L. Kennedy defeated Justice McGee Brown in the 2012 general election, and Judith L. French was appointed to Justice Stratton’s seat after Stratton retired at the end of 2012.

Statistics maintained by the Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Services show that more than a quarter of Ohio’s 700-plus judges and more than 30 percent of the state’s 44,000 active attorneys are women. As a reference point, Ohio’s population is 51.2 percent female, according to the U.S. Census.

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