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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Brunner Announces Bid For Ohio Chief Justice

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner [Twitter]
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner

Sitting Justice Jennifer Brunner wants to become the first Democrat elected to lead the Ohio Supreme Court in 40 years.

Announcing her candidacy for the November 2022 race on Tuesday, Brunner said she’s running for chief justice because it’s an opportunity to set the course for the court.

The former secretary of state and appeals judge said she would like the court to be open to more cases, examine racial justice in the judicial system and take a more proactive role.

“I believe very strongly in a very bright line between the separation of powers in the courts and that also means using the powers of the court when it’s necessary and called for and not falling back and saying, ‘Well, this is for the legislature to decide’ when actually it may be squarely in front of us,” Brunner said.

On the issue of racial equality and justice, Brunner said there are rules and protocols within the criminal justice system that she would like to examine.

“To bring people together and say, ‘How can we do this better and how can we set the course for the future?’ where we’re not continuing to use old methods of thinking that actually incorporate racism,” Brunner said of her goals.

Two of Brunner's colleagues on the court, Republicans Sharon Kennedy and Pat DeWine, are also said to be considering a run for chief justice.

Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Paduchik took a swing at Brunner’s short time in office in a statement following her announcement. Brunner was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in November and was sworn in in January.

“It is hard to fathom why a Justice who was elected just over six months ago and has not yet written a majority opinion would ask to be promoted to Chief Justice,” Paduchik wrote. “Ohioans deserve a qualified Chief Justice who is steady and principled, not someone who is singularly focused on self-serving promotions.”

Current Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor cannot run for re-election due to age restrictions. Under current state law, candidates over the age of 70 cannot run for a seat on court.

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