Interest groups battle over Sotomayor

Steve Henn May 27, 2009
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Interest groups battle over Sotomayor

Steve Henn May 27, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: With the president’s announcement yesterday that Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor is in line for a promotion, the money machine is kicking into gear. Over the past couple of decades Supreme Court nominations have featured big media buys and non-stop cable chatter tii. Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports one reason for that — some big institutions have a vested interest in cheering on the fight.


STEVE HENN: The first TV ads in support of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court hit the air today, less than 24 hours after word of her nomination leaked out.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will seek someone with a sharp independent mind.

The ad’s text highlights Sotomayor’s accomplishments, like serving as a prosecutor and graduating from Princeton and Yale. It was paid for by the liberal group, The Coalition for Constitutional Values.

In the past two decades, roughly a dozen different non-profits across the political spectrum have set up in Washington with the goal of pushing their judicial agenda. Call it the Supreme Court Nomination Industrial Complex. These groups exist to influence nomination fights. But they also depend on these fights to raise money and survive.

RICHARD VIGUERIE: Opportunities like this seldom come along.

Conservative activist Richard Viguerie runs a direct mail firm. He’s using it to fan the flames of opposition and raise cash. And when it comes to encouraging controversy over court nominations, political partisans have plenty of company. John Morton is a columnist at the American Journalism Review.

JOHN MORTON: The media like conflict, wherever it comes from and regardless of how phony it might be.

Commercials about the last couple Supreme Court nominations have cost about a million dollars each but insiders say those ads brought in even more cash.

I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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