Jan 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GOP to use Supreme Court fight to target vulnerable Dems

Illustration of the supreme court intertwined with elements from an American flag

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Conservatives know they're unlikely to stop President Biden from filling a Supreme Court vacancy, but they plan to target Senate Democrats who face competitive re-election fights and are all but certain to vote for the successor to Justice Stephen Breyer.

Between the lines: The general strategy will be to tie those Democrats to positions seen as political liabilities in states like Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, where incumbents are seeking re-election this year, an operative briefed on early strategy talks told Axios.

  • Gun control, abortion, education policy and COVID-19 mitigation measures are potential issues to hit.
  • The operative, who requested anonymity to share details of the strategy, said to expect substantial broadcast advertising targeting specific senators, with likely expenditures into the millions.
  • Conservative groups are looking to squeeze every bit of political advantage out of the process before this fall's midterms.

The opposition's specific tactics and operational budget will depend on the nominee, Axios is told.

  • In addition to advertising and direct advocacy, a substantial opposition research effort has also kicked into gear.
  • America Rising, a Republican research outfit, had already begun compiling research dossiers on potential Biden picks before Breyer's retirement broke.
  • "That includes financial disclosures, employment records and federal/state nomination files," a source familiar with the research told Axios.

Between the lines: Conservatives have built a formidable legal advocacy apparatus primed for Supreme Court fights.

  • Groups such as the Judicial Crisis Network spent huge sums backing the nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Even before a Biden nominee, both parties are attempting to milk the Supreme Court news.

  • The Republican National Committee and the Trump political operation both sent fundraising appeals on Wednesday pegged to the news.
  • So, too, did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
  • It sent an email with a plea to "rush $3 to defend our House majority and solidify our Trifecta."
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