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You Are Here: Home > Issues > Judicial Activism > Other Judges > Moyer

Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer (R)

Moyer Photo

What, briefly, do you believe the proper role of judges should be in a democratic society?

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Judges act interstitially. They fill in the gaps." The role of Supreme Court judges is to apply and sometimes interpret the words of statutes in a manner that is consistent with the intention of the legislature. Judges should not supersede the will of the legislature where the will is clear. With respect to common law, judges should defer to prior judgments on the same issue to provide consistency and predictability in the law, unless there are compelling reasons to not apply stare decisis.

How closely bound do you think judges should be to the "intent" of the framers of the U.S. Constitution? Or, is such intent beyond reasonable discovery?

The intent of the framers of the U.S. Constitution is reasonably discoverable with respect to most provisions. Courts should apply the original intent in order to provide consistency in the law. However, the broad language of the U.S. Constitution, as the Ohio Constitution, is an important reason the Constitution has endured for 210 years.

Justice Holmes once stated that, "The duty of a Supreme Court is not to invoke a personal standard of justice, but to play the game according to the rules." One legal editor commenting on this statement said, "The Supreme Court is not the nation's (or state's) moral conscience." Would you comment on this idea?

The moral authority of the American justice system to which Alexis de Toqueville referred in the 1830s and to which James Madison referred in The Federalist Papers comes not from the personal moral conduct of judges, but, rather, from the institutional role served by the courts in providing a place for the independent, impartial resolution of disputes in a nation founded on the rule of law.

Some judicial thought has suggested that the standard of what is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment is an evolving standard and moves with contemporary society's consensus about what is consistent with human dignity, what is too cruel, etc. Please comment on this idea.

We should remember that Thomas Jefferson said that every generation should review the Constitution to determine whether it continues to be relevant to that generation. The Constitution and most of the amendments are written in general terms in order to be applicable to changing circumstances. Our concept in 1998 of human dignity and cruelty is different than it was when the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution protects one's right to privacy? If so, would you briefly comment or explain?

As we know, the U.S. Constitution does not expressly protect one's right to privacy. Howver, I agree with the U.S. Supreme Court in finding the right to privacy implied from other words and principles upon which our nation was founded as the basis for recognition that there is a right to privacy in limited circumstances.

What are (will be) the major issues in your race?

Whether the office of chief justice will continue to be held by a person who understands the importance of conducting the office pursuant to the highest principles of our justice system and personal integrity. The election will also determine whether Ohio will have a chief justice who sees the office as an opportunity to have a msjor, positive impact upon all courts of Ohio through the considerable constitutional authority of the court to adopt rules and initiate programs of the system.

What changes or improvements would you bring to this office?

I am anticipating that the Ohio Courts Futures Commission which I created in June of 1997 will recommend significant changes for the court system that I will assist in implementing.