The battle over the Supreme Court vacancy will play a role in defining the contentious 2020 presidential race, and campaign advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle have already poured tens of millions of dollars into a fight whose outcome is almost certain, according to an analysis of spending by Fox Business.
More than a dozen conservative and liberal political groups alike have announced plans to spend millions on campaign ads in battleground states and nationally, specifically targeting the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
President Trump announced Barrett as his third nominee to the Supreme Court less than two weeks ago, and has pledged to get her confirmation through the Senate before the Nov. 3 election – greatly frustrating Democrats.
Super PACs and “dark money” groups have spent millions on advertising in the weeks following the death of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, paving the way for a massive campaign ad battle.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin Barrett’s confirmation hearing Monday and some groups, like the conservative Club for Growth, released their latest ad Thursday in anticipation of the four-day session.
“We’re seeing growing support for Judge Barrett’s nomination,” president of Club for Growth David Macintosh said Thursday.
Macintosh confirmed to FOX Business that the organization and their Super PAC, Club for Growth Action, will spend $5 million in their latest ad campaign.
The ad promotes Barrett’s confirmation to the high court on a national level, but also targets two vulnerable states -- Utah and Alaska.
“We have a very strong view that they should proceed to confirm her before the election,” Macintosh said Thursday. “The question of control is certainly up in this election.”
The libertarian political advocacy group, funded by David and Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), also confirmed to FOX Business that they will be spending a “seven-figure” ad campaign in their support for filling the Supreme Court vacancy.
AFP confirmed that that the “seven-figure” amount set aside for digital ads is not inclusive in the “grass roots” work that the organization also does to promote their interest in the Supreme Court confirmation.
“Minutes after President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett, we launched a full scale grassroots campaign to mobilize our activists across the country and drive her confirmation to the high court,” Casey Mattox, vice president for legal and judicial strategy with AFP, told FOX Business.
Mattox said that the targeted digital and direct-mail advertising is just one element of the group’s strategy to get Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court, which has “already exceed[ed] the major impact we had during the 2018 confirmation,” he added.
“And with the hearings just around the corner…we expect that energy will only grow,” Mattox said.
AFP, along with 200 other conservative groups, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Thursday, urging the Senate to confirm Barrett.
“Because of the judicial philosophy she embraces, the confirmation of Judge Barrett is of critical importance both to our country and to future generations of Americans,” the group wrote in a letter obtained by FOX Business.
But these campaigns are just the tip of the iceberg. The Republican National Committee announced a $10-million ad campaign following Barrett’s nomination ceremony at the end of September, to increase “voters’ enthusiasm about appointing a constitutionalist” to the Supreme Court.
The digital ad campaign was intended to “motivate and persuade” voters to get to the polls on Election Day and throw their support behind GOP senators who are considered to be vulnerable.
Conservative groups that took offense to Democrat’s alleged prejudice regarding Barrett’s Catholic faith have launched ads honing in on the issue.
The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) and CatholicVote both announced $10-million ad campaigns late last month.
“Democrats and their allies are already launching vicious attacks against Judge Barrett’s faith and family, picking up where Senators Feinstein and Durbin left off,” JNC president Carrie Severino said in a statement.
The JCN will run TV and digital ads in what it believes are “key states,” including Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Utah and Washington D.C.
But Democratic political action groups are pushing back as much as conservative groups are investing in the confirmation.
Demand Justice, a progressive group that focuses on judicial reform, has also pledged a $10-million ad buy that will air nationally, as well as target vulnerable Senate seats that Democrats are trying to flip in Iowa, Arizona, North Carolina and Colorado.
Just as conservative groups have taken issue with questions regarding Barrett’s religious views, Democratic groups are worried about her previous stances on abortion and health care.
“Barrett’s views may make her a darling of Trump’s base, but they will also make clear to everyone else that nothing less than the survival of the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade are on the line in this fight,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice said in a statement.
Other outside groups are spending big money against Trump this election, which could include Supreme Court messaging. Democratic groups have fused the Supreme Court battle with the Senate races, and a spokesperson for the Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, told Fox News that since September the group has targeted $50 million worth of ads that will be spent through Election Day.
“Our ads are all geared towards winning the election,” Josh Schwerin said, adding that it is unclear at this time how much is specifically being spent on targeting the Supreme Court.
American Bridge, another Democratic super PAC, has spent nearly $42 million on anti-Trump ads through Thursday, a number that increases substantially each day, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks election funds from the Federal Elections Commission.
The highly partisan fight over the appointment of what is supposed to be a nonpartisan position, has opened the U.S. government up to more infighting as the nation watches to see if Ginsberg’s seat will be filled.
Super PACS and “dark water” organizations are ironically utilizing the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v FEC – which grants nonprofits and corporations direct influence on elections by advocating for candidates through electioneering communications – to try and fill Ginsberg’s seat.
Ginsburg dissented from the 2010 ruling, and later said it was the one Supreme Court case she wished she could have overturned.
“If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United,” Bader Ginsburg said in a 2014 interview. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”