‘Trump is larding up the judiciary with people who are loyal to him…’
(Liberty Headlines) A liberal activist group is launching a digital ad campaign targeting the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that has championed judges appointed by President Donald Trump, such as Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
The ads, to appear on LinkedIn and Facebook, assail major law firms that sponsored the Federalist Society’s recently annual dinner, where Kavanaugh addressed more than 2,000 people in tuxedos and gowns at Washington’s Union Station.
The ads feature photos of a snarling Kavanaugh, along with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
Kavanaugh denied the charge, and a subsequent FBI investigation found no evidence to corroborate her 30-year-old claim, which returned to Ford’s memory in 2012 after the then-federal judge’s name began circulating as a top conservative Supreme Court pick.
“The Federalist Society is rebuilding Kavanaugh’s image” through events such as its annual dinner, the ad charges, so why are the law firms paying for it?”
Sponsored by Demand Justice, the ads target a half-dozen prominent firms that sponsored the dinner.
The bare-knuckle ads are a rarity in the city’s genteel legal world and an example of the increasing toxicity of the political debate over Trump’s judicial nominees.
The group’s executive director, Brian Fallon, worked closely with ethically challenged left-wing politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, before splintering off to form the operation.
Partially funded by megadonor George Soros, its original goal was to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but it has since branched into other campaigns to pressure and shame those who back conservative judges.
Demand Justice says the ads are the beginning of a sustained campaign “to hold accountable” people who help the Federalist Society “rehabilitate a sexual predator and attack the rule of law.”
The Federalist Society declined to comment. Carrie Severino, a longtime Federalist Society member and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, called criticism by Demand Justice and other liberal groups a badge of honor.
The Federalist group “is a successful network of conservatives and conservative lawyers that are very effective,” Severino said. Liberal critics “don’t like that,” she added.
‘Leave No Vacancy Behind’
The ads come as Trump and his allies celebrate his administration’s success in getting more than 160 federal judicial nominees confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, including 48 appeals court judges. About a quarter of current federal appeals court judges were nominated by Trump.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed Trump’s record on reshaping courts in an appearance with the Republican president this month. “And Mr. President, we’re going to keep on doing it,” he said. “My motto is: Leave no vacancy behind.”
The Senate will begin considering eight more judicial nominees next week, including Sarah Pitlyk, a former Kavanaugh clerk who was attacked, as many Trump nominees have been by the left-wing American Bar Association.
Many of Trump’s nominees, such as Steven Menashi—a former White House lawyer named by Trump to a New York-based appeals court—have ties to the Federalist Society, which has vetted and recommended dozens of conservative lawyers for Trump’s consideration as judges.
“Trump is larding up the judiciary with people who are loyal to him,” Fallon complained.
The Left has a long history of attacking conservative nominees, such as Reagan appointee Robert Bork and George W. Bush nominee Harriet Miers, both forced to abandon their Supreme Court hopes after liberal smear campaigns.
Like Kavanaugh, Justice Clarence Thomas was subjected to baseless character assassination in the form of sexual harassment and rape claims, which Democrats continue to invoke in their attacks on the court’s conservative majority.
Should the ailing Ruth Bader Ginsburg create another opening during the Trump presidency, it is expected that an even more aggressive resistance campaign awaits.
“The other side has been playing for keeps when it comes the courts for a long time,” Fallon said. “Democrats need to get back in the game.”
Contrary to the claim, Republicans have respected the extreme Supreme Court choices of Democrat presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, clearing the path for their confirmation with minimal vetting.
After Republican senators in the minority sought to block some of Obama’s federal judge appointments, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid implemented the “nuclear option,” requiring only a simple majority.
McConnell did the same for the Supreme Court when it became clear Democrats in the minority would obstruct Trump’s picks.
Fallon angered more than a few Democrats recently with an ad criticizing Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who has supported some Trump judicial nominees. Fallon’s group said Coons should have opposed nominees who refused to explicitly endorse Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling that outlawed school segregation.
It is a long held best-practice for nominees not to discuss their opinions on cases, which would likely open the door to litmus tests on more controversial decisions such as the controversial Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the 1970s.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, called the ad attacking Coons “way out of line.”
Coons, who is up for reelection in 2020, brushed off the criticism.
Fallon claimed his hardball tactics were succeeding. A report card compiled by Demand Justice found that in 2017-18, Senate Democrats voted for Trump’s judicial nominees more than 60% of the time. By 2019, Democratic support for judicial nominees plummeted to 28%.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press