'Swift Boat' PR Firm Takes Up Supreme Court Fight

The public relations firm that pushed the false “swift boat” smear on John Kerry in 2004 and has since taken up far-right causes from creationism to the Tea Party to recent attacks on Planned Parenthood has now gotten involved in the fight against confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court pick.

A new website, ScotusBrief.org, which appears to be dedicated to pushing the messaging of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), was registered four days after the death of Antonin Scalia by Leif Noren, the founder and chairman of the Virginia-based CRC Public relations. CRC has represented JCN in the past and in 2009 was involved in the effort to stop the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It’s on the CRC-created website that JCN published its embarrassingly thin opposition research dump on Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia.

CRC is most infamous for its role representing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that in the months before the 2004 election pushed dishonest claims that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had overstated his accomplishments in the Vietnam War. The smear was so nasty that it inspired the creation of the word “swiftboating” to describe false personal smears against a candidate.

Since then, CRC has taken up far-right causes including attacks on health care reform, climate-change denialism, the creationist Discovery Institute and the National Organization for Marriage. CRC is also representing David Daleiden, the activist behind last year’s series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood.

The Judicial Crisis Network — which during the Bush administration was called the Judicial Confirmation Network and was dedicated to pushing through conservative judicial nominees — has been laughably attempting to frame its efforts to stop a Supreme Court confirmation as some sort of high-minded, nonpartisan public service rather than the transparently partisan crusade that it is.

The group’s partnership with CRC, with its long history of vicious partisan smears, exposes that partisan crusade yet again.