Cupp faces strong opposition for seat on the Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court building is on the bank of the Scioto River in Columbus, and it is simply breathtaking, inside and out. The outside looks like white marble and, as you walk into the South Hearing Room, you are amazed by the gold trim on the ceilings, the elegant paintings and the eye-popping red curtain behind the judges’ table. The judges’ table is the center of attention, not just because it’s where justice is seen to be done, but also because of the very real possibility that the Nov. 6 election could knock current Justice Robert R. Cupp off this lofty podium and put William O’Neill in his place.

Trying to hunt down a judge is a lot tougher than it may seem. After three weeks of trying to get in contact with Justice Robert R. Cupp and the constant running to check emails for word from his secretary, it’s time to admit failure. His secretary, Clayton Henson, said there just was not enough time for Cupp to do an interview because of his busy schedule.

“Things are incredibly hectic,” Henson said in an email. “Between the election and his duties as Supreme Court Justice, he doesn’t have much time for anything else.” Cupp, he said, is still fulfilling all of his duties on the Ohio Supreme Court, while fighting to win re-election and trying to make time for his wife, children and grandchildren. 

Cupp was born Nov. 9, 1950, in Bluffton, Ohio. He graduated from Columbus Grove High School, attended Ohio Northern University and graduated with a B.A. in political science. He was always involved with Student Senate and, after his undergraduate degree, Cupp attended law school at Ohio Northern’s Petit College of Law. Cupp is still very involved with the education system through Ohio Northern University, where he is a visiting professor. Right after graduating from law school he was a prosecutor in Lima, Ohio, and shortly after that he was elected to the Ohio Senate.

Cupp’s opponent, William O’Neill, is the Democratic candidate for Cupp’s seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. Don Albert, a lawyer near University Heights, knows both men well. He chuckled as the interview started with some simple talk about Cupp’s opponent.

“Bill O’Neill, ha, he has never won anything in his life. He is a great man, with a good heart and a good friend, but for some reason he just never wins,” said Albert. But the polls are saying this may be the year when he finally wins an election.

O’Neill is not currently a judge, though he did sit on the Court of Appeals for 10 years, and he has not been as active with fundraising as Cupp. In fact, the main issue separating Cupp and O’Neill in this election is the issue of accepting contributions to one’s election campaign. O’Neill doesn’t do it at all, while Cupp does.

This is a clear distinction between the two opponents and is an obvious factor in the election this year. Is this distinction enough for O’Neill to finally become the man behind that marvelous podium at the Ohio Supreme Court? That is up to voters throughout the state to decide.

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Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 12:44 PM, 10.29.2012