October 22, 2014
Justice Kennedy Discusses Judicial Reform with Gahanna Rotary

Image of Gahanna Rotarian Al Bolton, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, and Gahanna Rotary President Brian Timm

(left to right) Rotarian Al Bolton, Justice Kennedy, and Gahanna Rotary President Brian Timm.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy visited the Gahanna Rotary Club’s meeting on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

She spoke to club members about the correlations between the Rotary Four-Way Test and the birth of America, stating that, “the principles described in the Four-Way Test are the same principles the founding fathers were thinking of when they established this republic.”

Following her presentation, Justice Kennedy was asked to comment on the ongoing push from various Ohio organizations for judicial merit selection—a method of selecting judges by panel recommendation and executive appointment rather than by popular election.

Justice Kennedy told Rotarians that personally, she would never willingly give up her right to vote for judges.

“Those in favor of merit selection must first be willing to say that somehow the government is going to do a better job of picking judicial candidates than they personally can,” she said.

As far as removing politics from the equation, Justice Kennedy said that merit selection isn’t going to cut it.

“Politics will always intrude one way or another,” she stated. “How can you say that we’re going to trust 15 people not to look below the résumé at party affiliation when selecting and recommending candidates?”

She also made the point that while lack of voter participation in judicial elections is often used as justification for the switch to merit selection, that argument lacks validity as well.

“People have the right to vote as well as the right to choose not to vote,” she said. “But if you say yes, voter falloff makes it okay to dispense with voting for judges, you’re effectively saying that you’re okay with stripping 75 percent of the populace of their constitutional right simply because the other 25 percent won’t make the effort to exercise that right.”

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.

For a high-resolution, print-quality photo of Justice Kennedy, visit: http://www.sc.ohio.gov/PIO/news/images/justices/kennedy_highres.zip.