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Press Release

Brennan Center to Honor Maureen O’Connor, Ohio Chief Justice (Ret.), and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative

The chief justice and the Collaborative will receive Brennan Legacy Awards for leadership in the fight to end partisan gerrymandering and advance democracy.

April 30, 2024
Contact: Sophia Lee, Media Contact,, 646-925-8734

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law will hold its annual Legacy Awards dinner in Manhattan. Each year, the Brennan Center selects honorees who have led the fight for democracy and justice. This year two of the three awards will go to Ohioans for their efforts to end partisan gerrymandering in their state and give Ohio voters fair representation in government. The award is named after the late Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

  • Brennan Legacy Award recipient Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor retired in 2022 after 19 years on the bench and has since focused on her state’s gerrymandering problem. She has been centrally involved in a ballot initiative for the 2024 election that would end partisan legislators’ control over district lines. The Citizens Not Politicians measure, which Justice O’Connor is traveling the state to support, is now in the signature-gathering phase and would establish a citizen-led independent redistricting commission.

    “Chief Justice O’Connor is a democracy champion,” said Michael Waldman, Brennan Center president and CEO. “She has taken the defeat of partisan gerrymandering as her own personal challenge. She has one goal: take the mapmaking away from those who benefit from it and make fair representation possible for all Ohioans. It is fitting to honor her in the name of Justice William Brennan, who himself was a state supreme court justice. He issued the landmark ruling that established one person, one vote as the goal, and her leadership takes that ideal of equal and fair representation to the current moment.”
  • The Ohio Organizing Collaborative will receive a Brennan Legacy Award for being the galvanizing force behind a three-year lawsuit seeking fair maps. The Collaborative’s staff and volunteers, represented by the Brennan Center in the litigation, not only served as plaintiffs in a rollercoaster of a lawsuit, but also kept communities across Ohio engaged and informed about the battle and why gerrymandering matters. They are now campaigning for the Citizens Not Politicians ballot initiative. Jeniece BrockSamuel Gresham Jr., and Molly Shack will be accepting the award on behalf of the organization.

    “The Ohio Organizing Collaborative’s commitment to fair maps is formidable,” said Yurij Rudensky, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Through lived experience, the staff and volunteers give voice to the damage the current system has done in the lives of millions of Ohioans, especially for communities of color. Despite setbacks in the courts, despite opposition from politicians and lobbyists, the Collaborative remains resolute: the people of Ohio deserve maps drawn in the public interest, not for political gain.” 

The Legacy Awards dinner will start at 6 p.m. ET. In addition to the recipients above, we will be presenting a Brennan Legacy Award to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo for her achievements in public service on behalf of democracy and justice.

For information about the Citizens Not Politicians ballot initiative campaign, click here.

For information about Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, click here.