Breyer’s Retirement Is Likely to Spark More Dark Money Spending in 2022 Midterms

Justice Stephen Breyer is retiringPresident Joe Biden the first Supreme Court pick of his presidency and likely sparking even more “dark money” spending in the leadup to 2022 midterm elections.

Even before Breyer announced that he was retiring this week, secret donors from both parties had already begun to weigh in about the impending vacancy.

As news of Breyer’s retirement broke, liberal dark money group Demand JusticeTweet a video ad calling for Biden to nominate “the first black woman Supreme Court Justice.” During his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election, Biden promised to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy. This pledge was a key endorsement by Rep. James Clyburn(D-S.C.), days before a crucial primary within his state.

In a White House press conference, Biden stated that he will appoint the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court by February 31st. “I’ve made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be someone of extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity — and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” he said.

D.C. Circuit Court Judge Ketanji brown Jackson has emerged to be a frontrunner on this shortlistA list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Appointing someone like Jackson to the Supreme Court “would make quite a statement,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, told The Atlantic. “We are confident Biden’s nominee will be installed before the October term,” he assured Roll Call. Breyer’s resignation letter, dated Jan. 27, stated his intention for the retirement to go into effect when the Supreme Court “rises for summer recess this year,” so long as his replacement has been confirmed.

Demand Justice quickly established itself during the former President as a top-spending party on Supreme Court nominations Donald Trump’s administration, rivaling conservative dark money groups that had long dominated the space.

The liberal dark-money group pledged to spend $10 millionTwo times the fight to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett $5 millionThey pledged their support in 2018 when Justice Brett Kavanaugh became the nominee.

Demand Justice, a 501(c),(4) nonprofit, has been exempted from tax since the Supreme Court case. It is no longer covered by the umbrella of Sixteen Thirty Fund’s sponsorship. Demand Justice has not responded to inquiries for comment about whether it plans to disclose donors.

Sixteen Thirty Fund has liberal values dark money behemothIt has sponsored numerous groups over time and contributed money during the 2020 election cycle to federal super PACs. $57 millionSpending by liberal super PACs or political committees on 2020 federal elections

Demand Justice launched last year. Balls & Strikes, a website that describes itself as publishing “original commentary and reporting about courts, the judges who preside over them, and the legal system they uphold.”

Within hours of when the news of Breyer’s retirement became public, Balls & Strikes published an article crediting Breyer’s retirement to being “shamed by your tweets.” The URL of the article reads “Stephen Breyer Retiring Huzzah.”

Demand Justice increased pressure for Breyer to resign after Biden was elected. The 83-year-old Breyer was appointed in 1994, making him the second-longest-serving justice currently seated on the Supreme Court after 73-year-old Clarence Thomas.

Last year, the group marked the 11-year anniversary of the late Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement announcement by paying for a billboard truck emblazoned with messages like “Breyer Retire” to drive around Washington, D.C., near the Supreme Court as well as online advertisingFacebook

“The Left bullied Justice Breyer into retirement and now it will demand a justice who rubber stamps its liberal political agenda,” Judicial Crisis Network president Carrie Severino said in a statement, adding “And that’s what the Democrats will give them, because they’re beholden to the dark money supporters who helped elect them.”

Judicial Crisis NetworkThe legal name of the Concord FundIt was rebranded at the beginning of 2020. Now, it is a dark money organization that doesn’t reveal its donors and is part in a shape-shifting networkMany secretly-funded conservative nonprofits who helped Trump reshapeThe federal judiciary.

The network is connected Leonard Leo, a powerful leader in the conservative legal movement who helped shape Trump’s unprecedented effort to stack the federal judiciary with conservative judges.

Judicial Crisis Network pledged to spend tens of millions to place conservative justices Kavanaugh, Barrett and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court during Trump’s administration and millions more to block President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland. As the most recent fight over Barret’s nomination heated up, Severino told CNBC that Judicial Crisis Network would “match” and “surpass” the $10 million in spendingThey were pledged by their liberal counterparts Demand Justice.

According to its most recent report, the conservative dark money group raised $20.4 million in the year up to June 2020, just before Barrett was nominated for the last Supreme Court vacancy. tax return.

Judicial Crisis Network’s affiliated Judicial Education brought in more than $50 million in revenue after it rebrandedAs the 85 Fund at 2020’s start. The group now operates under multiple different identities using “fictitious names,” including an alias focused on elections.

Severino told The HillHer group predicted last year that they would target Senate Democrats up to reelection, such as Sens. Mark Kelly(D-Ariz. Raphael Warnock(D.Ga.) leading up to the 2022 midterms.

Other potential targets for advertising related to the Supreme Court vacant positions include moderate Senate Democrats Sens. Kyrsten Sinema(Ariz. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) whose votes have not always lined up with Biden’s agenda.

“It’s going to be up to people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema whether they want to continue to endorse Biden’s agenda on this front,” Severino said of the moderate senators who may oppose a Supreme Court nominee framed as too liberal.

“If Sinema and Manchin are ungettable — and I don’t think we’ll know any of that until we have a name — then the pressure will be on,” Heritage Action executive director Jessica Anderson told Politico of the potential political fallout, asking “Does a full-throated support of Biden’s Supreme Court nominee get you out of danger?”

The Supreme Court vacancy provides ample fodder for ads and creates an environment ripe for “issue advocacy” ads that attack or boost a candidate without explicitly advocating for their election or defeat. Dark money groups aren’t required to disclose donors, and they often don’t even need to report their spending to the Federal Election Commission. Issue ads can be paid by these groups.

“The right-wing donors who stocked the Court with its 6-3 supermajority will deploy massive dark-money firepower in an attempt to defeat any Biden replacement,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse(D-R.H.), said in an emailed declaration.

Conservatives are also concerned about dark money spending at the Supreme Court seat from the left.

“We definitely are going to be focused on highlighting the corruption of the Biden administration and the dark money ties that have characterized his judicial nominees to date,” said Severino, who runs a dark money group that does not disclose its donors.

Breyer’s seat is not the only judicial nomination attracting big money.

A new Brennan Center reportUse OpenSecrets data found that nearly $100 million was spent to elect supreme court judges in states across the country during the most recent cycle of judicial elections — more money and more spending by special interests than any cycle in history. The Republican State Leadership Committee is the largest spender on state judicial election. Judicial Crisis Network received seven figures.

While Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) (R-Ken.) Politico. The rule change limits debate on some nominees, something Senators in both parties also agreed to temporarily during two years of Barack Obama’s presidency starting in January 2013.

The new rules have helped Democrats confirm judges during Biden’s first year as president at a pace rivaled only by former President Ronald Reagan’s initial 365 days in office.