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SCOTUS Attack Ads Airing in D.C. Copy Tactics Used in States

March 14, 2016


SCOTUS Attack Ads Airing in D.C. Copy Tactics Used in States
“Child predator” themes have a long history   
Contact: Laurie Kinney, lkinney@justiceatstake.org, (202) 588-9454; cell 571) 882-3615
WASHINGTON, DC, March 14, 2016 – A radio and TV ad now airing in the Washington, D.C. market targeting a potential Supreme Court nominee, Judge Jane Kelly, copies a pattern long seen in state Supreme Court elections, Justice at Stake noted. The Judicial Crisis Network-sponsored ad cites a case in which Kelly, as a public defender, represented a client accused of child pornography charges. 
“This ad takes a page right out of the playbook that partisan outside groups have used to attack candidates for state Supreme Courts for years,” said Susan Liss, Executive Director of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for fair courts It is incredibly common forthe ads to  take complicated cases or opinions and distort them for shock value. This approach does not inform the people nor help the process in any real way.  We are very disappointed to see this kind of political attack surface prior to  the  U.S. Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process.”
In recent years, Justice at Stake noted, this specific line of attack has been used by non-candidate groups that have run ads in several state judicial elections, including the following examples:
·         An ad running in Wisconsin’s current Supreme Court race and funded by an outside group, the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, accuses candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg of failing to protect children from abusers.
·         In 2015, an ad funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee accused Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Kevin Dougherty of failing to protect a child from an attacker.
·         In 2014, an ad paid for by a group largely funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee accused North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson of siding “with child predators” in a ruling. 
·         In 2014, ads funded by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America touted one judicial candidate in Arkansas as tough on child predators and accused another of calling child pornography a victimless crime.
·         In 2012, an ad run by the Democratic State Central Committee in Michigan stated that three Supreme Court candidates “protected criminals, not kids.”
Child-predator themed ads are a subset of the “tough-on-crime/soft-on-crime” ads that are now the most common type of advertisement in judicial campaigns nationwide, according to the comprehensive report Bankrolling the Bench by Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The Judicial Crisis Network has also aired ads in state Supreme Court races. Most recently, it aired ads in Arkansas’ February Supreme Court race, opposing a candidate for Chief Justice as “the ultimate insider.” In 2013-14, the group gave more than $500,000 to other groups spending in judicial elections in Wisconsin and Tennessee. In 2012, JCN aired an ad accusing a state Supreme Court candidate in Michigan of fighting “to help free a terrorist” at Guantanamo Bay. 
The positions and policies of Justice at Stake publications and campaign partners are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of other campaign partners or board members.
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