The Ohio Constitution states that no one may run for judicial office after reaching age 70. Although blocked from seeking reelection, O’Connor’s resignation comes after having voted against GOP efforts to redistrict statehouse and congressional maps. In July 2022, O’Connor was the swing vote in a 4–3 motion to reject a GOP-drawn map of U.S. House districts as gerrymandered.
From 1993–1995, she served as a judge in the Summit Country Court of Common Pleas. She then left to serve her community as Summit County Prosecuting Attorney from 1995–1999.
In 1999, O’Connor was elected to serve as Ohio Lieutenant Governor with Republican Gov. Bob Taft. O’Connor then joined the Supreme Court in Jan. 2003, was reelected as Associate Judge in 2008 and elected twice as Chief Justice in 2010 and 2016.
O’Connor’s mandatory retirement from the court comes after her decisive vote against Republican colleagues on redistricting reform.
“People think, ‘Well, you’re a Republican and you sided with three Democrats, that must have taken courage,’ O’Connor told The Columbia Dispatch. “But I’ve never been that kind of a Republican. I’ve never been that kind of a party person.”
This resulted in backlash from Republicans (such as conservative radio host ‘GOP Josh’) calling for O’Connor’s impeachment on Twitter. Others have even gone as far as to remove her picture from GOP headquarters.
“I’ve been called worse by better. And I don’t care,” O’Connor told The Columbia Dispatch on fellow Republicans calling for her impeachment over redistricting.
O’Connor had a long history of breaking with her party. In 2012, she joined a dissent when the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state legislative districts drawn by Republicans. In 2018, she joined with the lone Democrat on the court to dissent from a ruling upholding the forced closure of the last abortion clinic in Toledo. O’Connor has also called for gun background checks and bail reform despite being at odds with other Ohio Republicans.
In a September 2020 statement, O’Connor also condemned the Ohio Republican Party for accusing a local judge of colluding with Democrats.
As she leaves behind a long career at the Ohio Supreme Court, O’Connor now seeks to work on redistricting reform and take the process of drawing electoral maps out of the hands of politicos. O’Connor would like to put a constitutional amendment to change Ohio’s redistricting process on the statewide ballot as early as 2024.