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Judicial Interests May Cash In on Supreme Battle

Nan Aron, the group’s president and founder, said the Supreme Court selection is an opportunity for liberal groups such as hers to promote the important role the judiciary can play and to counter the conservative mantra that courts are too activist.

“A Supreme Court nomination is the best time for organizations such as ours that focus on the judiciary to educate people,” she said.

Even without a nominee, some conservative organizations are bracing for a fight based on the ideological leanings of previous Obama judicial nominees.

Carrie Severino, the general counsel for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, formerly called the Judicial Confirmation Network, said her group was prepared to launch a media campaign costing in the seven figures, similar to the one it waged against Sotomayor.

“I think we have funding in place. We are prepared to really fight,” she said.

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, another conservative group, said that a judicial fight can boost fundraising and energize the base to get out and vote in the midterm elections.

But he cautioned that some conservatives would be reluctant to mount an all-out battle if it appeared that there was not sufficient opposition in the Senate.

“You can’t fake it,” he said. “I don’t think any of us want to look feeble.”

Logging On for the Fight

Democratic lobbyist Robert Raben, founder of the Raben Group, said that while there has always been controversy over Supreme Court nominations, now more people can more easily link up online with activist groups.

“There are a lot more venues through which people with a point of view can express their views,” he said.

Raben also said the upcoming confirmation will be easier for liberal groups because there is “an existing infrastructure” at the White House that was created for the Sotomayor confirmation.

People for the American Way, the liberal group founded by television producer Norman Lear, is already taking up the White House message that the confirmation hearings should focus on a recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned corporate spending limits during elections.

Obama has criticized the decision in the Citizens United case by five conservative members on the court and suggested he was looking for a nominee that shared his views.

Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, which has been active in other judicial battles, said her group would “serve as an echo chamber for that conversation.”

Baker said she anticipated that conservatives would threaten to filibuster what they view as the liberal activist bent of Obama’s judicial nominees.

“I do see a certain amount of posturing, which I take with a grain of salt,” she said.

Down to Business

As the confirmation process proceeds, other influential organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are also expected to weigh in on the nominee.

For the past two decades, the chamber has evaluated the business record of high court nominees before deciding to make an endorsement.

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