Legal History

1st Black Woman Headed to Ohio Supreme Court, Which Will Have 4-3 Female Majority


Born to a teenage single mother in Ohio who worked two jobs to provide for the family, Yvette McGee Brown has soared far above what might have been predicted for her based on where she started in life.

McGee Brown earned her law degree at Ohio State University in 1985 at the same time her mother was earning her college degree. She then went on to become a high-ranking state government lawyer and law firm partner. Then she was the first black woman to be elected a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge, recounts a state judicial system press release.

Now, at age 50, she is about to be appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland to a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, where she will be the first black woman ever to serve on that bench. However, her planned elevation, which the outgoing governor announced today will be one of his last acts before leaving office in January, will create an unusual 4-3 female majority on the court, the Toledo Blade reported.

She replaces another judge who was elected chief justice of the state supreme court in November.

In announcing the appointment, Strickland said McGee Brown “throughout her life, from a humble upbringing to a distinguished career serving others … has embodied the highest levels of personal integrity and an exceptional intellectual capacity,” the newspaper reports.

“Her diversity of experience, work as a former judge, and advocacy for the welfare of Ohio families will add a unique perspective and balanced decision-making to Ohio’s Supreme Court,” the governor continued.

McGee Brown served on the juvenile court bench in Franklin County for a decade before unsuccessfully seeking election as lieutenant governor, as Strickland’s running-mate, last month.

McGee Brown is a lifelong resident of Columbus, married to a retired special education teacher and the mother of three children.

The Associated Press also has a story.

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