“Nightmare” by Forward Justice
Watch the ad:
In this ad, an announcer says, “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: Hundreds of children are victims of sexual assault every year. But Ohio’s Supreme Court treats children who were raped and assaulted the same as people in traffic accidents. Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer even tried to deny a victim her day in court. DeWine and Fischer sided with pedophiles and the people who fund their campaigns instead of victims. Vote them out. Forward Justice is responsible for the content of this advertising.’’
Who's responsible for this ad?
The ad is paid for by Forward Justice, a SuperPAC. Its website describe its mission this way:
“Across the country, elected state Supreme Courts are emerging as the final and most robust protector of democracy and mainstream values and the most important bulwark against a conservative U.S. Supreme Court’s attack on core rights. It is imperative that we continue making gains and winning these seats on the highest courts– particularly in states with Republican-gerrymandered legislatures. The highest priority in 2022 is the opportunity to secure a majority on the Ohio Supreme Court.”
The registration with the Federal Elections Commission provides only the barest amount of information and 2022 contributions to this new SuperPAC are not yet available. While Open Secrets has an overview of Forward Justice, the only information that it provides is that Forward Justice is a SuperPAC.
On Twitter, former Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and the author of Laboratories of Autocracy: A Wake-Up Call from Behind the Lines, David Pepper said that he is committed to raising at least $50,000 for this ad.
The Brennan Center for Justice’s Buying Time project has been tracking political spending in state Supreme Court races. Click here for information about political ads and spending in the Ohio Supreme Court races this year.
You can find all of Forward Justice’s court ads here.
Discussion and Analysis
The ad opens with the silhouette of a little girl, nose to nose, with a stuffed animal. As somber music plays, she bows her head and with her back to the camera, places her palms against a window. CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT comes on the screen, followed by this March 23, 2022, headline in the Columbus Dispatch: Ohio’s High Court Sides With Child Rapists Instead of Survivors. As the female narrator says Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer sided with pedophiles and people who fund their campaign, we see photos of the two justices, followed by hands pushing piles of money across the table.
Under the photo of DeWine and Fischer is Brandt v. Pompa, a case in which the Ohio Supreme Court determined that a law imposing damage caps is constitutional.
Amanda Brandt sued her rapist and the jury determined she was entitled to $134 million. Citing an Ohio law that limits damages, the trial court lowered the portion for non-monetary losses and injuries from $20 million to $250,000. Brandt asked the court to reconsider the pared down damages.
The ad comes as allies for Republican justices are attempting to portray their Democratic opponents as soft on crime.
On November 3, the Ohio State Bar Association Judicial Election Advertising Monitoring Committee sent a letter to Forward Justice calling for them to pull this ad.
Chair of the Committee Paul Hervey wrote, “ In this case, Justices DeWine and Fischer voted not to take a case on appeal. One is always free to disagree with a judge’s legal reasoning. One can be critical of the law that was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and previously upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. However, it is wrong and a disservice to the voters of Ohio to suggest that the legal reasoning employed by Justice DeWine and Justice Fischer in this case puts them on the side of pedophiles.”
In response to the letter from the Bar Association, David Pepper posted this thread on Twitter.
Click here for a link to the press release from the Bar Association.