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Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice: 'What About Your Duty To Your Fellow Ohioans?'

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor delivered her State of the Judiciary at the Hilton at Easton on September 12, 2019.
LIESL BONNEAU
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Ohioans in a total of 12 counties will be required to wear masks starting Friday at 6 p.m. But lawmakers continug to push back on the state's COVID-19 response, and raise questions about the enforcement and legality of the mask mandate and other public health orders.

Shutdown orders and the mask requirement have brought clashes among Gov. Mike DeWine, state lawmakers, local government entities and individuals.

In an interview on "The State of Ohio," Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said there are no cases before the court that could settle who has the authority to do what. But she has heard recent statements made by some lawmakers and citizens who oppose those orders.

“People will tell you, ‘I have a right not to wear a mask. I have a right not to do this or I have a right to do this’ or whatever, and nobody focuses on their duty. What’s your duty to society?" O'Connor asks. "What’s your duty to your community? Your right not to wear a mask and potentially spread disease – what about your duty to your fellow Ohioans?”

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill reducing fines and prohibiting jail and criminal convictions for violating state or local Health Departments orders.

DeWine said he’ll veto the bill, saying those orders are tools to try to keep Ohioans safe.

“We have to treat it like the crisis it is," DeWine said. "And having the ability, the tools to very carefully do things that need to be done is an essential part of that.”