Chief Justice Kennedy Promises ‘A New Day’ at the Ohio Supreme Court

Taking her ceremonial oath of office on Wednesday, Ohio’s new Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy promised “a new day” at the high court and could cast the deciding vote on crucial topics in the state like abortion and redistricting.

Kennedy, who becomes the second female justice to preside over the state’s highest court, said she didn’t initially picture the moment.

“This is not where I thought I would be when I was 23 years old. At that time, I thought I could become a chief, but I thought I would be a chief of a police department. But in life you never know what comes next,” Kennedy said.

She served as an officer with the Hamilton Police. Then, she got her law degree in 1991 from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. After serving in a private practice, she became a domestic relations judge in Butler County. She joined the state Supreme Court in December 2012 and now follows the first female chief justice, Maureen O’Connor.

The Supreme Court of Ohio is the highest court in the state system, sometimes called “the court of last resort.” Most, but not all, of the cases the state Supreme Court hears are appeals from the state’s lower courts. The chief justice and six justices make up the state Supreme Court. All seven hear and decide each case. As head of the Supreme Court, the chief justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law.

Kennedy vocalized her support of life beginning at conception and said that the constitution does not protect abortion.

She was the keynote speaker at the Greater Toledo Right to Life’s sold-out legislative breakfast in 2017, and years before the overturn of Roe v Wade, she indicated on a Right to Life questionnaire that she believes there is no constitutional right to privacy -the legal premise on which the case was decided.

In March 2022, she agreed that the U.S. Constitution does not grant women the right to an abortion and that “an unborn child is biologically human at every stage of his or her biological development, commencing with conception.”

The Ohio Right to Life also endorsed Kennedy for the May 2022 primary election.

Ohio’s “Heartbeat Law,” which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, has been placed on hold by a lower court judge. Attorney General Dave Yost has requested that the ban goes into effect right away from the state Supreme Court.

Former Chief Justice O’Connor was a Republican-affiliated judge but was happy to break with the party line. She did not outspokenly say she was for or against abortion. However, she dissented from a ruling that upheld the forced closure of the last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio.

Kennedy and O’Connor also had a disagreement over GOP redistricting proposals last year, with O’Connor voting against everyone and Kennedy on the other hand voting in favor of everyone.

With O’Connor off the court and former Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters joining, the likelihood of the court approving future GOP redistricting proposals appears greater.

Judge J. Gregory Howard said that Kennedy’s work ethic would make her challenging to wager against.

“Her hard work, her tireless work ethic, her dedication, and determination make her a difficult person to bet against. She is not the type of person that takes no for an answer or to be told that you can’t do it or that it will never happen,” Howard said.

Kennedy said she had the same philosophy since joining the state Supreme Court over 10 years ago.

“The next justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio must be someone who is vigilantly and strictly dedicated to the separation of powers. To exercise restraint and say what the law says, not what the law should be. As the next chief justice, I will keep my promise to many people to ensure the marginalize reach their full potential. The people of Ohio have bestowed upon me the greatest honor of my life in giving me this opportunity to serve. I promise you, I will not let you down,” Kennedy said.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Ohio Supreme Court” by Sixflashphoto. CC BY-SA 4.0.




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One Thought to “Chief Justice Kennedy Promises ‘A New Day’ at the Ohio Supreme Court”

  1. Justice Kennedy, Very proud of you, but i knew you would win.