Facebook Ads Offer Peek at Looming Supreme Court Fight

The U.S. Supreme Court justices soon after Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joined in 2017.

Even before President Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee is announced, a fight over the choice is raging on social media.

In the days since Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said he would retire, partisan groups have turned to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks with political ads. Some of the ads urge voters to pressure their senators to block or speed the confirmation process for Mr. Trump’s eventual nominee. Others oppose allowing specific jurists to fill the vacant seat.

Judicial Crisis Network, an organization that promotes conservative judicial nominees, announced last week that it would spend more than $1 million to support Mr. Trump’s nominee. So far, the group has spent as much as $140,000 on a series of nearly two dozen Facebook ads. Many of the Facebook ads are targeted at users in North Dakota, Indiana and West Virginia, all red states with vulnerable Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year.

The ads, which also appeared on Twitter, show a 30-second video with darkened images of Democratic lawmakers interspersed with bright images of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

One Nation, a conservative offshoot of Crossroads GPS, also used Facebook ads to target users in states with hotly contested Senate races.

“Extremists will lie and attack the nominee,” the ad’s narrator says. “But don’t be fooled: President Trump’s list includes the best of the best, and with your help, America will get another star on the Supreme Court.”

Demand Justice, an organization formed this year by veterans of the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns, began running Facebook ads on Monday urging voters to “stop Trump’s SCOTUS takeover.” The group, which has said it plans to raise $10 million this year, has also run ads opposing Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Amul Thapar, three judges who are reported to be on Mr. Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court. The candidate-specific ads began running before Justice Kennedy announced his retirement and were targeted at an audience that included users in California and New York, two Democratic strongholds, but also in Florida, a swing state.

These groups, which are classified as 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, are not required to identify their donors or disclose much of their spending. But new Facebook ad policies are for the first time giving a glimpse of how money from these organizations flows through social media.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of 2016, when…

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Peter Bordes

Exec Chairman & Founder at oneQube
Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
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