Exclusive: Conservative group launches $2M Supreme Court ad

Screengrab of ad, courtesy of Judicial Crisis Network.

The Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $2.2 million ad campaign to put pressure on vulnerable Senate Republicans in battleground states to support a quick confirmation when President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee.

The big picture: "Follow Precedent," previewed by Axios, is one of the first national and cable television ads to run following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death Friday.

  • Several organizations on both sides of the aisle will spend millions to try to influence lawmakers in the fight to fill Ginsberg's seat and energize socially-driven voters ahead of November.

Details: The narrator of the ad depicts Democrats as extremists for calling on President Trump and the Republican-led Senate to wait until after the election to fill the vacancy and argues there is precedent to move quickly: "Justice Ginsburg was confirmed in 42 days. Only three Senators voted against her. Justice O'Connor was confirmed in 33 days. It was unanimous."

  • The ad will run in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Utah and Maine targeting vulnerable GOP incumbent Sens. Susan Collins, Cory Gardner and Thom Tillis.
  • It also will air in Washington, D.C., reaching Trump and his aides ahead of his announcement of a nominee.

The backdrop: The Judicial Crisis Network — a conservative dark money group run by Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas — has committed to spending at least $10 million this month on its Supreme Court mobilization efforts.

  • It was heavily invested in getting Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.
  • Severino committed this weekend to "surpassing" the spending of progressive opponents. Demand Justice, a liberal dark money group, also committed to spending $10 million in the fight over Ginsburg's seat.

What they're saying: "There is no reason Judge Amy Coney Barrett or Judge Barbara Lagoa could not be confirmed before the election," Severino said in a statement to Axios, naming two women believed to be among Trump's leading contenders. "The Senate should ignore the extremists, stick to precedent and confirm the nominee.”

Watch the ad.

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