Deborah Louise Cook
Deborah Louise Cook joined the Supreme Court of Ohio following her successful campaign for election in November 1994. Her number of dissents from the Court’s bipartisan majority of Justices Andrew Douglas, Paul Pfeiffer, Alice Robie Resnick and Francis E. Sweeney Sr. made her six-year tenure on the high court notable. She differed with the majority on workers’ compensation cases, tort reform legislation and the DeRolph case, which involved funding for Ohio public schools.
Cook was born in Pittsburgh in 1952. She graduated from the University of Akron in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in 1978. While in law school, she joined the Akron law firm of Roderick, Myers & Linton and worked as a clerk. Upon graduation and admission to the Ohio bar, Cook began practicing law with this firm and subsequently became the first woman to be named a partner in the firm of Roderick, Myers & Linton.
Cook first sought the post of judge for the 9th District Court of Appeals in November 1988, but was unsuccessful. Gov. George Voinovich then appointed Cook to the 9th District in 1990. She was sworn into office for a term that began in February 1991.
Cook was elected to the Supreme Court of Ohio in November 1994 and re-elected in November 2000. While on the high court, Cook was an active member of the Courts Futures Commission that sought to modernize Ohio’s courts. She also argued for the increased and compulsory use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to help reduce the backlog of cases in lower courts.
One of Cook’s notable dissents came in her 1998 written opinion in DeRolph v. State. The majority opinion found that Ohio’s method of funding public schools failed to meet the state’s constitutional requirement of a thorough and efficient school system. Justice Cook took exception to the Court directing the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation as a remedy to the problem.
In her dissent, Justice Cook expressed her belief that the majority opinion altered the balance of constitutional power by ordering the legislature to pass new laws as part of a remedy. Her dissent conveyed her conviction that the Supreme Court’s foray outside its role of interpreting the law would undermine public confidence in the Supreme Court. Her opinion contained the argument that the Supreme Court, by failing to respect the authority of the General Assembly to enact legislation and the governor to administer laws, committed a serious affront to individual liberty and democratic ideals.
President George W. Bush appointed Cook to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2001. Two years later, in May 2003, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm her nomination to the federal appellate court, a position in which she still serves. The Sixth Circuit Court hears cases on appeal from the federal district courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Cook married Robert Linton, a fellow partner in the firm of Roderick, Myers and Linton. While living in Akron, Cook was active in a number of civic and volunteer groups, including Stan Hywet Hall and Grounds, the board of directors of the Women’s Network, Safe Landing Shelter, Mobile Meals and United Way.
145th Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Jan 1, 1995
to Jan 1, 2003