ProgressOhio filed a formal ethics complaint over Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy's recent pro-life messaging, joining newspaper editorial boards around the state in urging her to recuse herself from an upcoming abortion clinic case.
The crux of the matter is a March 17 fundraising event for Greater Toledo Right to Life. Kennedy spoke at the event and helped generate revenue for the organization. Greater Toledo Right to Life has historically used part of its budget to lobby the Statehouse to legislate abortion restrictions and, ultimately, to shut down abortion clinics. Kennedy, based on past campaign literature, is opposed to abortion practices.
Days prior to the event, Capital Care Network of Toledo landed in the cross-hairs of the Ohio Supreme Court.
At issue is the constitutionality of an Ohio law that mandates transfer agreements between private hospitals and abortion clinics. A Lucas County judge and a state appeals court ruled that the law is unconstitutional
. (Capital Care Network of Toledo has a transfer agreement with a hospital at the University of Michigan, but not with a private hospital in Ohio.) The case was kicked up to the Ohio Supreme Court, which on March 15 agreed to hear it.
"Justice Kennedy had the option of cancelling her speech to Right to Life – or
recusing herself from hearing the case," ProgressOhio staffers write in the group's ethics complaint. (Greater Toledo Right to Life played a supportive role in the transfer agreement legislation.) To date, she has not recused herself.
Kennedy responded: “For the past 6 years, I have appeared at numerous civic organizations to speak about the founding of this republic, the Constitution, and the separation of powers. In December 2016, an individual who had heard me speak at two previous events invited me to speak to a civic organization he was affiliated with for breakfast. I treated that request in the same manner as I would treat any request.”