September 2, 2014
Justice Kennedy Speaks to Upper Arlington Senior Citizens

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy addressed members of Upper Arlington Senior Center’s Current Events Group during their meeting on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

During her interactive presentation, Justice Kennedy discussed Ohio’s three branches of government and the structure of the judicial system and Supreme Court in particular. She emphasized not only the individual’s role in government, but also the role judges play in maintaining the constitutional balance of government.

“When judges think they have a magic pen that can re-write the laws as they see fit, it is as if the people’s voice was never heard,” she said.

During a Q&A session following, Justice Kennedy shared her thoughts on the constitutional right to vote for judges and the recently proposed Ohio Judicial Reform. Currently in Ohio, judicial elections are held on even-numbered years, but the three-point reform plan calls for a switch to odd-numbered years.

This change, Justice Kennedy said, would result in fewer people having a say in who gets to sit behind the bench. Based on Ohio’s voting history, even-numbered years tend to have a higher voter turnout because of the higher profile elections, such as presidential and congressional, held during these years.

Another concern Justice Kennedy expressed was the additional burden the change would put on boards of elections around the state.

“Many boards don’t run a primary election in odd-numbered years,” Justice Kennedy stated. “So then you’re requiring them to run a primary every single year and incur that extra expense. What many people don’t realize is that many boards bank on saving money in the off-years, since the higher profile races take so much extra work and expense.”

Justice Kennedy is serving her first term on the Supreme Court of Ohio. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy served on the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division from 1999 to 2012. Justice Kennedy served as the administrative judge there from 2005 until December 2012. Justice Kennedy began her career in the justice system as a police officer in Hamilton, Ohio. She received her law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

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