Weekly Legislative Report: US Senator Rob Portman features prominently in Kavanaugh hearings

​Sept. 6, 2018

Neither Senator Rob Portman or Senator Sherrod Brown are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is on day three of its mission to thoroughly vet Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Senator Rob Portman played a big role on Tuesday. After a long day of “spirited” (Senator Portman’s word) opening statements by members of the committee, he, along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and attorney Lisa Blatt, a Democrat who supports Judge Kavanaugh, formally introduced the Judge to the Committee before Kavanaugh delivered his own opening statement.

Portman, who (along with Secretary Rice) worked with Kavanaugh in the administration of President George W. Bush, touted the judge’s experience and qualifications and called him “an extraordinary nominee in every respect,” who “deserves broad support.” Despite this entreaty, it continues to look as though Kavanaugh will make it through committee with a party line vote. Senator Sherrod Brown signaled last month that he will not support Kavanaugh when his nomination comes to the Senate floor, saying he has “serious concerns” about some of Kavanaugh’s rulings: “I do not believe he would put working families’ interests first,” he said.

Obama coming to Ohio to stump for Cordray 

As Borrell Associates, a Virginia-based research and consulting firm that tracks political advertising, predicts that spending in the hotly-c​ontested Ohio Governor’s race to hit $28.7 million, President Obama will be coming to Ohio to lend some grassroots support to the Democratic nominee who served as his director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rally will be in Cleveland and open to the public, but very few other details have been released.

Meanwhile if you are looking to get to know the two gubernatorial candidates a little better outside of their standard campaign platforms and platitudes, check out the Columbus Dispatch’s light-hearted interviews with them on the questions you really want to know the answers to. These include their favorite books (Cordray: “Seabiscuit,” DeWine: “All the King’s Men”), preference on Star Wars vs. Star Trek (Cordray: Star Trek, DeWine: Star Wars), the last concert they went to (Cordray: Leslie Odom Jr., DeWine: REBA at the State Fair), and favorite beer, wine, liquor (Cordray: Grapefruit juice, DeWine: Root beer (yes, you read that right)). Both attorneys, they also noted their first court cases, with Cordray representing the Dispatch on an open-courts issue (he won on appeal) and DeWine remembering an aggravated robbery that occurred in Fairborn (he also won). The jury is still out for November.

Buenger leaving Court 

The Ohio Supreme Court announced on Friday that Administrative Director and good friend of the OSBA Michael Buenger will be leaving the Court next month to become executive vice president of operations for the National Center for State Courts, for which Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is immediate past chair. Mike has served the Supreme Court of Ohio since 2015 after having held similar roles in South Dakota and Missouri.  While it’s exciting to have someone with Ohio connections and considerable talents at the NCSC, he has been a great partner and will be sorely missed by this Association. Stephanie Hess will assume the role of interim administrative director while the Court conducts a national search to fill the role.

Week ahead  

Next Thursday (while President Obama holds his rally in Cleveland) OSBA President Robin Weaver will be back at the Hilton Easton in Columbus, joining the Ohio Judicial Conference at their annual meeting. He has the honor of presenting the OSBA’s Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence and the Innovative Court Practices Award — an annual tradition.

Tracking OSBA legislation    

Once again, there were no voting sessions at the Ohio General Assembly this week, but you can always track bills we are watching and OSBA priority legislation via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.

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