Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Nomination Quickly Galvanizes Interest Groups on Both Left and Right; Battle Lines Crystallize Earlier Than with Either Roberts or Miers Nominations

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A new study of interest group reactions to this year's Supreme Court nominations shows that today's pick of Judge Samuel Alito may trigger the kind of confirmation battle not seen since Judge Robert Bork was voted down in 1987. The data show many groups announcing their support or opposition in record time -- a certain prelude to unleashing war chests they've been amassing for years.

"When John Roberts was nominated, many interest groups moved deliberately in choosing sides," said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign. "Now both sides are rushing to close ranks. The TV air wars are about to begin."

Interest groups combined to spend about $2.4 million on TV ads during the Roberts confirmation skirmish; only about $100,000 was spent on the Harriet Miers nomination. With few exceptions, interest groups refused to take positions on the nomination of Miers before her Oct. 27 withdrawal.

Two conservative groups that failed to endorse the nomination of Miers moved quickly to back Judge Alito. The Judicial Confirmation Network issued a statement saying that "Judge Alito is the best, in terms of legal credentials, judicial experience, intellectual ability, fairmindedness, and faithfulness to the Constitution." Concerned Women for America announced its "wholehearted support." Both groups also issued day one declarations of support for Roberts. A new conservative group, Americans for Better Justice, also immediately called for "for the speedy confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito."

People for the American Way and the Alliance for Justice, two major liberal groups, both announced formal opposition to Judge Alito's nomination within hours. Each took more than a month to formally oppose the Roberts nomination, while neither had announced a formal position on Miers prior to her withdrawal.

Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will be continuing to provide regular snapshots of the television advertising campaigns in the U.S. Supreme Court nomination battles. The groups regularly collaborate on analyses of interest group advertising in state Supreme Court elections.

More resources and information are available on Justice at Stake's website at


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