Kentucky Supreme Court
Kentucky Supreme Court Chamber.jpg
The chamber of the Kentucky Supreme Court
Authorized byKentucky Constitution
Number of positions7
WebsiteOfficial Website
Chief Justice
CurrentlyJohn D. Minton, Jr.
SinceJune 27, 2008
Lead position endsJanuary 1, 2023

The Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment and is the state supreme court of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Prior to that the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals is now Kentucky's intermediate appellate court.

Criminal appeals involving a sentence of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of twenty years or more are heard directly by the Kentucky Supreme Court, bypassing the Kentucky Court of Appeals. All other cases are heard on a discretionary basis on appeal from the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Kentucky Supreme Court promulgates the Rules of Court and Rules of Evidence. Through two of its subagencies, the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions (KYOBA) and Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), it is the final arbiter for bar admissions (KYOBA) and discipline (KBA).

In the event that two or more justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court recuse themselves from a case, the Governor of Kentucky appoints Special Justices to sit for that particular case.

The court meets in a courtroom located on the second floor of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. The second floor of the capitol building is also home to offices for the justices and Supreme Court personnel.

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), under the aegis of the Kentucky Supreme Court, serves as the administrative support agency for Kentucky courts and Circuit Court Clerks. The role of the AOC is similar to that of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for the Kentucky General Assembly.

Notable cases

In its short history, the Kentucky Supreme Court has not produced much jurisprudence of note. A study published in 2007 by the Supreme Court of California found that of all state supreme courts in the United States, the decisions of the Kentucky Supreme Court were the least followed by other states' appellate courts.[1]

Notable decisions of the Kentucky Supreme Court include Kentucky v. Wasson, 842 S.W.2d 487 (Ky. 1992), in which the court invalidated the criminalization of same-sex sodomy as a state equal protection violation. This Kentucky decision, based on the Kentucky Constitution, was made at a time when the applicable federal equal protection precedent was Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which held that federal constitutional protection of the right of privacy was not implicated in laws penalizing homosexual sodomy. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court reversed itself and overturned Bowers, issuing a decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) that mirrored Kentucky's Wasson ruling.

Current justices

Main article: List of justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court

District Justice Born Term start Term ends College Law school
1st Christopher S. Nickell 1958/1959 (age 62–63) December 11, 2019 2023 DePauw Kentucky
2nd John D. Minton Jr., Chief Justice (1952-03-16) March 16, 1952 (age 70) July 24, 2006 (as Associate Justice)
June 27, 2008 (as Chief)
2023 Western Kentucky Kentucky
3rd Debra H. Lambert 1961/1962 (age 59–60) January 6, 2019 2025 Eastern Kentucky Kentucky
4th Lisabeth Tabor Hughes, Deputy Chief Justice[2] October 1955 (age 66) September 10, 2007 (as Associate Justice)
February 3, 2017 (as Deputy Chief)
2023 Louisville Louisville
5th Laurance B. VanMeter (1958-08-28) August 28, 1958 (age 64) February 7, 2017 2025 Vanderbilt Kentucky
6th Michelle M. Keller 1960 (age 61–62) February 2013 2023 Northern Kentucky Northern Kentucky
7th Robert B. Conley January 4, 2021 2029 Kentucky Northern Kentucky

See also


  1. ^ Jake Dear and Edward W. Jessen, " Followed Rates" and Leading State Cases, 1940-2005, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 683, 694(2007).
  2. ^ Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes named Deputy Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Kentucky