Jennifer L. Brunner, Ohio Supreme Court
Why did you choose to run for the office of Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court?
I chose to run for this office for three reasons: First, I want to be a part of a court that ensures that the first decision interpreting the state constitution’s new provisions for fair districts for Congress and the Ohio General Assembly, when challenged—and they in all likelihood will be, are fair and according to state constitutional requirements. As Secretary of State, my office sponsored a public contest to draw districts according to a formula that served as a basis for developing the state constitution’s formula for fair districts, and we proved that it can be done. Nothing is more basic to the health of Ohio’s democracy than fair districts, and I want to participate in that process. My experience will help me do that to the benefit of the court, the rule of law and, most importantly, the people of the State of Ohio.
Second, there are important issues such as when a police officer can make an individual get out of his or her car, under what circumstances criminal records can be sealed or expunged, when someone’s home can be taken through foreclosure or what is appropriate in applying legislative caps on damages (such as for repeated rapes of a child by a trusted pastor) so that the gravity of the offense(s) is reflected in the damages. These issues are just a few that affect everyday people in Ohio, though they rarely realize how drastically they are affected by just the words of the state’s highest court.
Third, I have found that when there is a political balance on an appellate court, the tendency to “group think” is less likely to happen and better decisions emerge that involve the give-and-take of views and the softening of others through reasoned and respectful discussion and decision making. Currently, the political balance on the state’s highest court is a state of unbalance with 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
A 4-3 balance either way would, in my view, create an atmosphere of cooperation for some of the best decisions possible from the court. I hope to help provide that balance to the court with my election.
Opponent: Justice Judi French (Republican) from Columbus by way of Sebring, Ohio, appointed by Governor Kasich in 2013 and elected in 2014
Also up: Justice Sharon Kennedy (Republican), from Butler County, Ohio, elected in 2012 and reelected in 2014 – opposed by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John O’Donnell
Current makeup of Ohio Supreme Court:
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor (Republican) – term ends 2022, leaving Chief Justice seat open for 2022 election
Justices French and Kennedy (Republican) – terms end 2020 – this year’s 2 seats up for election
Justices Donnelly and Stewart (Democratic) – terms end 2024 – elected in 2018
Justices Fischer and Dewine (Republican) – terms end 2022 – elected in 2016
Brunner bio by the numbers:
• 5 years as appellate judge – current position (10th District Court of Appeals, Franklin County, handling state administrative appeals from all over Ohio)
• 4 years as Ohio’s first female Secretary of State
• 1st Ohioan to receive bipartisan JFK Profile in Courage Award—in 2008 for Secretary of State work
• 5 years as common pleas court judge (Franklin County Common Pleas Court–general division–started felony drug court in 2004)
• 17 years in private practice–started law firm from corner of her bedroom when kids were 7, 4 and 2
• 3 statewide campaigns (including this one)
• 4 countywide campaigns
• 0 times lost a general election
• 41 years married to Rick Brunner from Columbiana County (farm boy now lawyer)
• 3 children
• 5 grandchildren
• 2 dogs
• Ohio Supreme Court will perform constitutional review of any challenged redistricting and reapportionment plans after the 2020 census, according to new state constitutional formulas
• Ohio Supreme Court decides cases ranging from labor organizing issues, to insurance coverage, to search and seizure by police officers, to foreclosures, to criminal record expungement, to business disputes, to workers compensation law, to election and voting disputes – and more
• Ohio Supreme Court can decide which cases it takes for review – this year it declined by one vote to review women’s health clinic appeal
Facebook account: JenniferBrunner
Facebook page: BrunnerCommittee