A pro-abortion rights group is alleging that Republican senators are blocking the president's Supreme Court nominee over abortion, and is targeting four of them in new ads.
NARAL Pro-Choice America plans to devote $100,000 to radio and digital ads in four states criticizing Republican senators for not considering Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
The ads will focus on Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, and vulnerable GOP senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio. According to audio of the ads shared with CQ Roll Call, female NARAL members from those states reiterate the Democrats' "Do Your Job" mantra, and add that without hearings or a vote on Garland, the senators "will be stopping the highest court in the land from protecting our right when it matters most."
The ads allege that the Republican decision to not hold hearings or a vote on Garland is really about limiting abortion rights. A NARAL spokesman pointed to Grassley's reported remarks to a pro-life group in April that the Supreme Court was "one justice away" from making partial-birth abortion a constitutional right.
"Not only have Senate Republicans refused to do their jobs for more than two months, but now we learn that their cynical obstructionism was really about limiting access to abortion all along," Sasha Bruce, NARAL's senior vice president for campaigns and strategy, said in a statement.
Garland's position on abortion is not well-known. A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service notes that Garland has not heard a case regarding abortion regulation during his tenure on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he is currently the chief judge. But the report's authors also suggested that Garland's view on the subject would be "broader" than that of Scalia, who was a staunch conservative.
Grassley and other Republicans have argued that they are blocking Garland's nomination on principle, not because of Garland as an individual. The GOP has argued that the Senate should not confirm a judge in the midst of a presidential election when the direction of the court hangs in the balance, and should instead let the American people decide the court's direction through their vote in November.
Republicans have held firm in their position, despite attempts from Senate Democrats and outside groups' attempts to sway them, especially vulnerable GOP senators in swing states.
NARAL plans to run the ads as senators head home for the Memorial Day recess. A coalition of progressive groups led by former Obama advisers , known as the Constitutional Responsibility Project, announced Wednesday that it would be launching a new digital campaign aimed at GOP and independent voters to push for a hearing and vote on Garland. The campaign, called "Republican Voices," involves digital ads in Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over the recess, though the group did not disclose the size of the ad buys.
Conservative groups have also been on the air, making the case that Garland would swing the court to the left. The Judicial Crisis Network has spent roughly $4 million on its campaign.