Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Canton) Repository, Nov. 8
You don't have to be a legal scholar to understand that the ruling by a three-judge appellate court panel in Cincinnati this week makes it much more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule definitively on the constitutionality of states regulating same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld gay-marriage bans in Michigan and Kentucky, as well as narrower restrictions on same-sex couples in Ohio and Tennessee. Of five appellate decisions across the country on gay marriage so far, this was the first that upheld the bans.
Ohio's own ban on gay marriage, which voters approved by a wide margin in 2004, was not at issue in the ruling this week, but it could be affected if the Supreme Court accepts the appeal that has been promised.
While polls in Ohio and elsewhere show growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, the Cincinnati court ruling makes clear the contentious, related questions that remain unanswered. Is marriage a constitutional right demanding a federal solution, or is it an institution that each state is free to define? Who ultimately decides, the courts or legislators and voters?
While same-sex marriage is a thoroughly modern issue, the legal and constitutional divides that it has created — painful divides because there seems to be so little middle ground — go back to the founding of the country. Maybe both sides can take some comfort in that fact as they wait for resolution.
The Lima News, Nov. 10
...In August, we pointed out myriad problems with a proposed bill in the Ohio General Assembly — House Bill 465, "Annie's Law." Now the Ohio Judicial Conference and the Ohio State Bar Association have also rightly come out against the proposed law...
The bill would require those convicted of their very first charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
...If the driver's BAC is above 0.025 percent, the car will not start...
While well-meaning and not all bad, the bill has a few problems. Most notably, it ties the hands of those whom we trust to mete out punishment in our society, the judges. That is the message the Ohio Judicial Conference is trying to get across to lawmakers...
The Ohio State Bar Association also opposes the legislation, saying it will further clog courts as offenders, allowed to drive with the device, will have less incentive to strike plea deals that normally would get them back on the road faster...
There are other problems with the law.
...The defendant must bear the cost of the ignition interlock device, which can be about $80 a month and is usually installed for at least six months or even 12 months. Additionally, many rural areas do not have a vendor who can install and calibrate the device... This would require a long drive to the nearest large town. This law, then, will disproportionately impact the poor...
The state's drunken driving laws are already fairly severe for a first-time offender... Do we need to add to the crushing burdens placed on those who simply made a one-time mistake?
The (Toledo) Blade, Nov. 10
The Obama Administration has not been a friend of news media. The latest evidence comes from Ferguson, Missouri, where on Aug. 9 a white police officer shot to death 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, sparking weeks of sometimes-violent street protests.
With the eyes of the world on the community, police went to the Federal Aviation Administration and got a no-fly zone imposed over Ferguson for nearly two weeks, on the pretext that reports had indicated shots had been fired at a police helicopter.
The 37-square-mile restriction limited flights to police and commercial aviation. The White House insists the FAA's restriction was prudent in the immediate aftermath of the reported shots, and noted the restriction eventually was eased to allow TV news helicopters over the area.
But reports of conversations between police and FAA officials made clear that as Ferguson erupted, police didn't want news media — and, by extension, the public — to have a bird's-eye view of the news. The press has never been the problem in Ferguson. Shame on the FAA for making news-gathering harder.
The Marietta Times, Nov. 7
How to defend the public against the threat of Ebola has been controversial in several states, with President Barack Obama second-guessing some governors who dared to pursue what they viewed as science-based precautions.
But in Ohio, a state where concern was merited, controversy has seemed absent. So has Ebola.
Why? State and local officials in the Buckeye State moved quietly but decisively after news broke that a Texas nurse with Ebola had visited the state...
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health announced the end of a 21-day "watch period" for a few dozen people who may have had contact with the nurse...
During that three weeks, about 160 people were monitored by health officials. Three of them had been quarantined.
Far from resting on their laurels, state officials continue to check anyone returning to Ohio from West Africa, where Ebola is a deadly, raging epidemic...
How is it that Ohio took effective action against Ebola — including a few quarantines — without being the target of criticism?
In part it is due to the low-key manner in which state officials acted. And, of course, there is the fact the vast majority of Ohioans recognized the danger and supported local and state governments.
Ebola could still come to Ohio, of course. So could outbreaks of other diseases, including influenza. But state officials and residents have provided a model for dealing with deadly diseases and, in doing so, have laid the most important groundwork for handling challenges in the future — public confidence.