Justice Brunner has significant conflicts to hearing Ohio redistricting cases
COLUMBUS, OH—Chairman Bob Paduchik issued the following statement on Justice Brunner’s flagrant partisan actions and statements that necessitate her recusal from redistricting cases:
“We take Justice Brunner at her word. Based on her actions and statements it’s clear her decision on redistricting litigation is predetermined, and therefore she is subject to recusal. Ohio residents deserve an impartial constitutional review of the newly drawn legislative districts, and Justice Brunner is incapable of providing a fair opinion.”
Ohio ethics rules for judges strictly prohibit a candidate or sitting judge from making a pledge, promise or commitment to rule on a case. In accordance with this standard, we strongly request Justice Jennifer Brunner recuse herself from any court case involving redistricting.
There are four serious conflicts to Justice Brunner hearing a redistricting case:
- she vocally campaigned for the Ohio Supreme Court as a candidate that would side with Democrats on future redistricting litigation.
- she has close relationships with several litigants in the redistricting suits.
- she has been a redistricting reform advocate for decades.
- she has a reputation of seeing all issues through the lens of partisan politics.
Brunner took every opportunity to highlight her candidacy as decisive to future redistricting lawsuits. In her campaign announcement she highlighted a quote from then Democrat National Committee Chairman Tom Perez: “As Ohio implements a new way to draw its district lines after the 2020 election I can think of no one better than Judge Jennifer Brunner to ensure Ohio’s districts are fair.”
There are many other documented instances where then-candidate Brunner promoted her candidacy through future redistricting litigation, including an awkward attempt to solicit the artist Cher for a campaign event. Another is a Tweet from Brunner stating, “Let’s elect an Ohio Supreme Court that will fight to end partisan gerrymandering. Donate $10 today!”
Justice Brunner is also conflicted because of her close relationships with several plaintiffs and Democrat-aligned advocacy groups that supported her campaign for Ohio Supreme Court. These individuals and organizations have endorsed and helped fund her 2020 campaign.
- Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was special guest at a 2020 fundraiser for Jennifer Brunner’s campaign for Ohio Supreme Court. Holder and the NDRC are a plaintiff in the second lawsuit suit.
- In 2010, Brunner launched the Ohio Redistricting Competition with League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio. League of Women Voters is a plaintiff in the first lawsuit, while Common Cause did the bidding of Democrats throughout the redistricting process. Additionally, Brunner has recruited volunteers to support League of Women Voters activities.
- The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund in a 2020 endorsement of Brunner, stated “Judge Brunner is committed to defending our democracy and upholding a fair redistricting process when new legislative and political boundaries are drawn.” The OECAF parent organization, Ohio Environmental Council, is plaintiff in the third lawsuit.
Justice Brunner is a longtime redistricting reform advocate and has many public statements demonstrating her opinions on redistricting that disqualify her ability to be impartial. Including a Tweet in August of 2021 where Justice Brunner encouraged her followers to participate in Ohio Redistricting Commission public hearings.
Justice Brunner has a prolific history of making decisions based on partisan consideration to the point that she has been labelled by columnist Peter Bronson as ‘the most partisan state official in Ohio.’ As Secretary of State, Brunner disenfranchised thousands of absentee ballots and sought to remove several Republican county officials without cause.