Just days after FBI agents carried out a search warrant for secret documents wrongly being held at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, a right-wing dark-money group that helped secure a far-right majority on the Supreme Court launched a $1 million digital and cable ad campaign attacking Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The Judicial Crisis Network has been at the core of the massive and secretly funded dark-money campaign by right-wing funders and groups like the Federalist Society to secure ideological domination of the Supreme Court and federal judiciary. The group backed former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s abuse of power to prevent the Senate from considering former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court, and then spent tens of millions promoting confirmation of Trump’s nominees. More recently, JCN led attacks on the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and dishonest smears against several of President Joe Biden’s Justice Department nominees.
The new JCN ad seeks to undermine Garland’s credibility, accusing him of “cowering to the woke mob.” A press release announcing the ad buy claimed that Garland has “consistently bowed to the radical left’s agenda.” In a statement, the group’s president Carrie Severino repeated a false right-wing talking point accusing Garland of “calling concerned parents ‘domestic terrorists.’”
The ad also claims that Garland has betrayed his former judicial colleague Brett Kavanaugh by not stopping activists from protesting outside the Supreme Court justice’s home. As CNN noted, the rarely enforced law that JCN and right-wing politicians are demanding Garland use against protesters could also be interpreted to forbid the kind of protests at the Supreme Court that anti-abortion groups mobilized for years. The JCN ad notably does not mention that Garland supported recent legislation to beef up security for Supreme Court justices and their families.
Right-wing media outlets have given JCN’s campaign a boost, with Fox News reporting JCN’s assertion that the Garland ad is part of a broader $10 million campaign attacking Democrats over the court that will include “paid advertising, earned media, research, grassroots activity, and a coalition enterprise.”
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