Editorials from around Ohio

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Ashtabula) Star-Beacon, March 22

Ohio is one of just 13 states in which spouses can receive exceptions for rape and other sex-related offenses. Meaning with no force or threat of force, Ohio law deems that no rape or sexual assault can occur. So, if a victim is drugged, for example, the “spousal exemption” means they could avoid a rape charge, which is a first degree felony.

We hope to see a bill introduced last week in the Ohio General Assembly eventually pass and get Ohio off that ignominious list.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Reps. Greta Johnson, of Akron, and Kristin Boggs, of Columbus, would change the law and treats marital rape no differently from other forms of rape. The legislation was before the House Criminal Justice Committee on March 21, but how far it progresses is still unknown.

Johnson, a former assistant prosecutor in Summit County who is resigning at the end of March to become deputy director in Stark County’s law department, told the Akron Beacon-Journal the idea of having to wonder if a rape case she tried would be different if those involved were married “just seemed crazy to me.”

Johnson once proposed a version of the bill that also would have eliminated the statute of limitation for rape and sexual assault cases — another change we overwhelmingly favor — but has drafted a “cleaner” version of the bill this time in hopes it will find bipartisan support. And the bipartisan Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee — composed of 24 “individuals with extensive experience in criminal justice, law enforcement and public safety” — supports the bill, according to the Beacon-Journal.

The presumption that being married grants men or women special privileges with their spouse is archaic. While the circumstances can look different between intimate partners — it can start consensual and then consent is revoked, or it can involve a partner who might be sleeping — any no at any time means no, regardless of whether someone is wearing a wedding ring.

Yet, it is important to work against that preconception because many people still carry it. In the summer of 2015, in what feels like several lifetimes and too many controversial statements ago to count, then-candidate Donald Trump’s spokesman, lawyer Michael Cohen, said “you can’t rape your spouse,” in response to past allegations by Trump’s ex-wife Ivana. As we said at the time, that a lawyer who presumably knows the law made such a statement shows how strongly embedded the misconception still is in society. And that Ohio has a law on the books that validates any variation of the idea that spousal rape is somehow different or more permissible is an embarrassment for the state that should be rectified immediately.




The (Youngstown) Vindicator, March 24

Good news and bad news flowed directly out of Columbus this week about the war on opiate abuse and its destructive and anguishing impact on children and families.

The good news is that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has launched a promising multimillion-dollar program to identify, assist and treat families devastated by the grip of heroin, fentanyl and other painkiller opiates.

The bad news is that the Mahoning Valley and other areas of the state will not enjoy one drop of the potential rewards of that initiative because the two-year project will be isolated to 14 southern Ohio counties. The silent and invisible victims of the opiate epidemic in the rest of the state sadly will be left behind.

DeWine on Wednesday unveiled the pilot program titled START… The $3.5 million intervention program will provide specialized victim services to children who have suffered harm due to parental drug abuse. The program also will provide drug treatment for parents…

Ohio START will bring together child protective services, peer mentors, the courts, and behavioral health and treatment providers to work closely with families whose children have been abused or neglected due to parental addiction in the 14 rural counties…

We … hope that … legislative leaders in the Ohio General Assembly will work with the attorney general’s office to explore potential protocols and funding mechanisms to expand the program to the Mahoning Valley and all other areas of the state…




The (Canton) Repository, March 20

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency … released new rules to curb emissions of methane, a component of natural gas that contributes to climate change. The rule requires the oil and gas industry to reduce emissions significantly over the next decade on new, modified and reconstructed infrastructure, like wells, pipelines and processing and storage facilities…

The EPA rule was followed in November by the roll-out of similar rules pertaining to drilling on federal and tribal lands. The Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule aims to regulate flaring, venting and leaking of methane on these lands by the oil and gas industry. Flaring is the burning of natural gas that cannot be processed or sold. Venting refers to the controlled release of natural gas into the atmosphere…

No sooner had the BLM’s rule been finalized than it came under attack. The House of Representatives already has advanced legislation that would dismantle the rule. It could come before the U.S. Senate for a vote any day now…

If the Senate moves ahead and dismantles the BLM’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, we fear the EPA rule on reducing methane standards would be next. A better approach would be to address any concerns that might exist within the rule, rather than to eliminate it in its entirety.




The Marietta Times, March 22

Some U.S. senators would do the nation a favor if they pondered who and what they are discussing in … confirmation hearings for federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, who has been nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court.

During opening statements … by members of the Judiciary Committee, some Democrat senators focused criticism on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“Most Americans question whether we need a Supreme Court justice with the vision of Donald Trump,” commented Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned support of Gorsuch by groups that are “anti-choice, anti-environment and pro-corporate.”

But neither Trump nor those supporting Gorsuch will ever have a vote on the Supreme Court.

It is the character of just one person, Neil Gorsuch, that senators should discuss. And the only important issue is his understanding of the Constitution and his fidelity to it. Nothing else matters in deciding whether he should become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.