May 8, 2017
Justice Kennedy Speaks to the Cambridge Lions Club

Image of Cambridge Municipal Court Judge John Mark Nicholson, Tom Davey, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy, and Guernsey County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David Bennett

Pictured left to right: Cambridge Municipal Court Judge John Mark Nicholson, Lion Tom Davey, Justice Sharon Kennedy, and Guernsey County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David Bennett.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy addressed members of the Cambridge Lions Club at their weekly meeting on May 8, 2017, in Cambridge, OH. She spoke about Ohio’s judicial system and how it relates to the other branches of government.

“While it seems that we have nothing in common, a justice from the Ohio Supreme Court and all of you, just below the surface of titles and where we live is the stark reality that we have everything in common,” Kennedy said. “For in this grand experiment called a republic in which we live, the founders recognized in declaring our independence that ‘All men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights and among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’” she quoted. 

Kennedy continued: “Our founders gave us a representative form of government, whereby the people control the government by their vote and voice. Each and every one of you affect government by your vote and by your voice when you pick up the phone and say there ought to be a law or that shouldn’t become a law.” 

She emphasized that in America’s representative form of government, the duty of judges is to refrain from legislating from the bench.

“When I was first sworn in as the Domestic Relations judge in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, and I put on that black robe for the first time, and put my hands into the pockets, my hands came out empty. You see, there was no magical pen. I don’t know what to erase or add to a law to make it better, to make it conform to your wishes.  You alone are responsible for that through your representative voice,” Kennedy said.

“As President Reagan stated at the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Justice Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘The Founding Fathers were clear on this issue.  For them, the question involved in judicial restraint was not—as it is not—will we have liberal or conservative courts? …The question was and is, will we have government by the people?’” she quoted.

Justice Kennedy is serving her second term on the Supreme Court of Ohio. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, she served on the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division from 1999 to 2012. She 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.