Case File A Secret, Too

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy

A three-judge panel dismissed an ethics complaint against Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy that was filed by ProgressOhio and signed by doctors, patients, consumer groups and medical students.

Though the ethics complaint was dismissed, the identity of the deciding judges and legal reasoning remain secret.

“This dismissal shows that Ohio’s most powerful state court is also its least accountable,” said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis. “Those handling the complaint refused to even identify the judges who cleared Kennedy.”

brief letter that announces the dismissal states, “[u]nless the justice against whom the grievance has been filed agrees otherwise, the matter shall remain private unless and until a formal complaint is filed.”

Filed May 17the complaint centered on Kennedy’s decision to speak at a March 17fundraiser hosted by Greater Toledo Right to Life, even though at the time the court was deciding on a case that could close Toledo’s last abortion clinic. Right to Life has successfully lobbied to close half of Ohio’s abortion clinics and add 18 new abortion restrictions to Ohio law – including one restriction facing a challenge before the very court on which Kennedy sits.

The complaint called Justice Kennedy’s speech “a clear violation of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct’s call to ‘avoid the appearance of impropriety’ and ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’”

Kennedy has been endorsed by Ohio Right To Life and some of its affiliates, and in a questionnaire she filled out for Cincinnati Right to Life, she agreed that “an unborn child is biologically human at every stage of his or her biological development, beginning at fertilization….”  By agreeing with the statement, Kennedy disagrees with prevailing U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion rights and is at odds with major medical groups that support continued access to safe and legal abortions.

A decision in the Toledo case has not been announced.

ProgressOhio organized the complaint. It was signed by 51 individuals and the following organizations: Ohio National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Physicians Action Network, Women’s March Ohio, Fulton County Indivisible Alliance and Northwest Ohio Indivisible Coalition, Equality Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Women Have Options, Democratic Voices of Ohio, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, Indivisible Columbus District 3, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and Medical Students for Choice at Ohio University.

This article comes from a ProgressOhio press release.