Speeches

Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer
First Oral Arguments in the Ohio Judicial Center

March 16, 2004

Welcome to one of the most significant occasions in the 201-year history of the Supreme Court of Ohio ….the first oral arguments in an independent home for the court.

Not since the 1912 constitution expanded the court to its current seven members, has the judiciary witnessed the passing of such a significant milestone.

The judiciary and the citizens of Ohio are deeply indebted to those who made this possible, from the members of the General Assembly in the late 1920s and early 30s who had the foresight to build this landmark… to the governors and legislators of the 1990s and today who assumed the risk to restore this treasure for future generations.

I also thank the justices of the Supreme Court…Steve Hollon and our administrative personnel for their guidance and support, as this project was transformed from a vague idea, to a remarkable facility that is a civic and architectural statement about the work we do here. Your patience is rewarded with a work place that inspires us to a new appreciation for the rule law.

The persons who demonstrated the most patience—architects Bob Loversidge and Tom Matheny, and construction manger, Tim Gusler.

Our most profound gratitude is given to the men and women who, literally and figuratively, built this building. To the wood carver and the metal worker…..

the muralist and stone mason…

for their labor and artistry gave luster to this civic monument.

And to the restorationists, the architects… the electricians and pipe fitters who dusted off this architectural gem, making it a proper home for the judiciary.

It is as if these artists and crafts persons were inspired by British art critic John Ruskin, who wrote “When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight…. nor for present use alone.”

This facility was also constructed by citizens who never held a hammer or a paintbrush; the people and events depicted in the murals throughout the building.

It was their civic dreams, their hopes for a constitutional democracy that gave shape to these walls and corridors.

The Marietta settlers depicted at the far end of this magnificent room, contributed their spirit, still reverberating here today. Through their belief that a civilization can flourish only if the rights and responsibilities of its citizens are clearly delineated in the rule of law.

Murals dedicated to industry and commerce in the north and south hearing rooms, bear witness to our ancestral belief that in a constitutional democracy, the law is the repository of our shared experiences,

our common values.

“This building speaks forth, not alone of progress, but the aspirations of our sovereign state. We dedicate today the great and growing tasks of government, not girders of iron and walls of marble, but the spirit and intelligence of our people.”

Those are the words of Governor George White at the dedication of the cornerstone of this building in April 1931. I can only imagine that Governor White had the vision that someday this would become the home of the third branch of government in the state capital.

Today, when citizens enter this building they are inspired by the sense that something important occurs here….that this is a venue for the peaceful, orderly resolution of conflicts; a place that calls us to breathe life into fundamental principles of justice.

This room, the height of the ceiling, the grandeur of these walls, remind us that we are borrowing this space, that we are only passing through history. Like General Washington on my right, and Commander Perry to my left….history will not remember us as individuals, but only for our pursuit of the common good.

Today we are the custodians of this heirloom…entrusted with society's belief that we will protect it and preserve it.

The art and architecture remind us of those have come before us. Its permanence reminds us… of all who will come after us.

In this ephemeral era, we are anchored by its strength and beauty, but more importantly, we are anchored by the permanence of the rule of law that is reflected in this magnificent structure.