Progressive groups will mount a multi-phase effort against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, targeting specific Democratic and GOP senators and preparing a broader assault on Republicans to pressure them against blowing up the filibuster — even as some Senate Democrats pledged Monday to block Trump’s pick.
کد خبر: ۶۶۲۱۱۳
تاریخ انتشار: ۱۲ بهمن ۱۳۹۵ - ۱۵:۴۵ 31 January 2017

Progressive groups will mount a multi-phase effort against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, targeting specific Democratic and GOP senators and preparing a broader assault on Republicans to pressure them against blowing up the filibuster — even as some Senate Democrats pledged Monday to block Trump’s pick.

Leaders of key groups have been meeting privately to coordinate strategy for the past month, and have already begun to talk protest plans in senators’ home states and at the Supreme Court in Washington, with early conversations about fundraising and advertising underway.

They are still outraged by the Republican blockade of Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland last year but are trying to cast their own opposition as different — particularly as Trump already has issued a series of executive orders that have prompted court challenges nationwide.

Foremost is Trump’s far-reaching and controversial executive order to ban immigrants from several predominantly Muslim nations, a directive sure to be a focus in the coming Supreme Court fight.

"There is now an urgency to oppose anyone who won’t be a powerful check on the Supreme Court against the executive branch excesses and impulses,” said Nan Aron, founder and president of the Alliance for Justice. "I would predict that there will be a huge outcry if the nominee cannot demonstrate that he or she could be independent and serve as the check on presidential power.”

On the Democratic side, progressives are zeroing in on red-state Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. Among Republicans, they’re looking at Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Nevada’s Dean Heller, who are both up for reelection in 2018, and the moderate Susan Collins of Maine.

And while conservative forces are already putting the finishing touches on a $10 million ad blitz targeting red-state Senate Democrats who will come under enormous pressure to back Trump’s nominee, People for the American Way is readying a television ad campaign of its own as a counterbalance.

"There will be resources available to make the case,” said Marge Baker, the group’s executive vice president. "This is a fight that we’re going to be in, in an absolutely serious way.”

The advocates contend they have both the progressive energy to pressure Democrats to hold the line, and enough of a buffer in a Democratic caucus of 48 members to lose several while still being able to block a nominee.

"There is a lot of energy in the progressive space to say, ‘This seat was stolen from a Democratic president, period. It was grand larceny,’” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change. "Democrats in the Senate, and progressives and liberals who care about the unprecedented nature of that theft by Republicans, shouldn’t roll over for Donald Trump and his Supreme Court pick.”

Along the way, they’re hoping to drive a major wedge between Republicans in the Senate, many of whom are wary of blowing up the filibuster completely, and Trump, who’s made clear that’s what he wants if Democrats don’t confirm his nominee.

"I don’t advocate taking the same approach that GOPers took to Garland (in refusing meetings, hearings and votes),” said one former Obama White House official. "I’d advocate for close, intense scrutiny at every stage of the process — which I think will eventually lead just about every Dem to oppose the nominee and likely at least some GOPers.”

For months, groups such as the Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way have done extensive research on the nearly two dozen judicial candidates whom Trump named during his campaign, with special focus recently on names that have popped up more frequently — such as Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Hardiman and 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, two jurists reportedly at the top of the pack.

The pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America has also been distributing its own research on where potential nominees stand.

A broad array of liberal groups, including People for the American Way, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, and Center for American Progress Action Fund, have organized a protest for Tuesday night at the steps of the Supreme Court against Trump’s nominee, who’ll be announced earlier that evening.

Senate Democrats — who are also waging a political fight over Trump’s executive orders and Cabinet nominees — for the most part have tried to reserve judgment until the president actually unveils his pick. Democrats have been insisting on a so-called mainstream nominee, although Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has conceded that he believes Trump won’t pick such a candidate.

Still, Democrats are almost sure to face a massive level of pressure from the base to hold the line against Trump’s pick.

"They need to fight like hell and do all they can to confirm only someone who is fair and an independent judge who can serve as a check to this president,” said Ellen Buchman, executive vice president for field and communications at the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights.

Though the advocacy groups insist they are not simply trying to go tit for tat over the obstruction of Garland, there’s little doubt that the lingering frustration over how Obama’s final nominee was treated has permeated thinking among many Democrats.

"That’s how we see this,” one Democratic senator said of the Garland blockade. "The anger, we feel it in our stomach.”

Whenever the Supreme Court fight begins in earnest, Democrats won’t be hungry for help from the outside.

The Constitutional Responsibility Project, organized by former Obama aides last year to push for Garland’s confirmation, will be reconstituted at the offices of SKDKnickerbocker, with Sheila O’Connell, most recently Chris Van Hollen’s 2016 Senate campaign manager, coming on board.

The opposition-research group American Bridge is preparing a full-research, rapid-response and video-tracking operation to "expose the nominee as too conservative and out of step with mainstream Americans,” said Kevin McAlister, a spokesman for the group.

And End Citizens United, a political action committee that advocates for campaign finance reform, is readying a national grass-roots campaign that will push its 3 million members to flood senators with calls, emails and petitions, as well as a digital advocacy effort, spokesman Adam Bozzi said.

All that is to counter the expected assault and pressure from conservatives, who backed the Senate GOP’s nearly yearlong blockade of Garland but now expect Democrats to fall in line.

Schumer "said it’s hard for him to imagine a nominee … from President Trump who Senate Democrats could support,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday. "We don’t even have one yet. I hope we can get past that and get down to our serious work.”


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