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Supreme Court Candidates Debate at City Club

Both Ben Espy and Robert Cupp have familiar names to Ohioans because both served for years in the Ohio Senate. The Republican Cupp is now an Appeals Court judge in Lima. The Democrat Espy is an attorney in private practice. Cupp said he wants a court that is predictable because investors want stability.

Robert Cupp: A stable legal environment so that the rules of tomorrow are the rules today encourages people to invest and to grow jobs in Ohio.

Ben Espy, an African American who attended law classes taught by Thurgood Marshall, is more interested in a court that rights constitutional wrongs.

Ben Espy: Predictability means you know the outcome before. ... I want a court that's consistent, one that's thorough, and one that brings finality to issues in the state.

Espy was referring to the DeRolph school funding case. After ruling four times that the Ohio system of funding schools was unconstitutional, it put an end to the case by leaving a remedy up to the legislature.

Ben Espy: This court shirked its responsibility. Children are denied constitutional funding because of where they live.

Cupp said he didn't want to discuss DeRolph because the case may come before the court again. He did say the court's ruling was not very specific but said no one else has been able to come up with a widely accepted alternative funding system.

Robert Cupp: People say the court can find the answer that no else can. Would that they were so brilliant.

Hanging over every Supreme Court race in Ohio is a question of outside influence. In 2000 the Chamber of Commerce paid for attack ads against justice Alice Robie Resnick that asked the question "Is Justice for Sale?" This month a New York Times analysis found that in cases that affected campaign contributors of justice Terrence O'Donnell, he ruled 91% of the time in their favor. In his reelection race this year the Republican O'Donnell has raised more money than any candidate while his Democratic rival William O'Neill has pledged to accept no campaign money. Mark Urycki, 90.3.