On Dobbs Anniversary, Democrats Look to Make the Court a Campaign Issue

A Democratic-leaning group announced on Monday the beginning of a seven-figure campaign to focus voter attention on the importance of the Supreme Court in the presidential election, with a heavy emphasis on the high court’s role in issues like abortion, gun safety and voting rights.

The group, Stand Up America, is kicking off the $1 million campaign on the second anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which overturned the right to an abortion and convulsed the country’s politics in its aftermath.

For years, Republicans have made the courts — especially the Supreme Court — a central issue in federal elections. The vacancy on the Supreme Court during the 2016 election was a central force behind Donald J. Trump’s victory. Among voters who said the Supreme Court was the “most important factor” in their decision, 56 percent cast a ballot for Mr. Trump, according to exit polls.

This year, Democrats are trying to harness that same energy: Though there is no current vacancy on the court, there is potential for a president to make appointments in the next administration.

With help from the actress Barbra Streisand and the TV host Andy Cohen, as well as social media influencers, doctors, lawyers, voters and politicians, the effort will include a website and a targeted digital ad campaign in presidential battleground states.

The goal, according to the group, is to raise awareness about the impact the election could have on the Supreme Court: Four of the nine justices, the group notes, will be in their 70s by 2025, giving the next president an opportunity to further shape a court that has become significantly more conservative since 2016.

“You already know that our fundamental freedoms are on the line this November, but did you know the stakes are even higher regarding the Supreme Court?” Mr. Cohen asks in one of the ads for Stand Up America. “We need a vote this fall to prevent Trump from picking more MAGA justices who will threaten our fundamental freedoms for decades to come.”

The Stand Up America campaign comes as President Biden has been increasingly vocal about the role of the Supreme Court in recent campaign stops. At a fund-raiser in Los Angeles this month, Mr. Biden said that “the next president is likely to have two new Supreme Court nominees” and that Mr. Trump had nominated justices who targeted the rights of Americans.

“I think it is one of the scariest parts,” Mr. Biden said during the event.

Mr. Trump has been less direct in his statements about the Supreme Court, commenting on the judicial branch mostly in relation to his criminal trials. But he has boasted of nominating the three justices who were crucial to overturning Roe v. Wade, as he did at a rally in Wildwood, N.J., in May, recalling the battles he faced to get them confirmed.

“I faced down vile attacks from the radical left to confirm three great Supreme Court justices,” Mr. Trump said at a speech to the National Rifle Association in February. “They’re great justices.”

Internal polling conducted by Stand Up America found that nearly 75 percent of voters said that whom a presidential candidate would appoint to the Supreme Court would play a role in their selection in November.

The group also plans to launch a get-out-the-vote operation with a heavy rotation of digital ads and celebrity videos asking voters to sign a pledge to be a “Supreme Court voter.”

“Cases related to abortion, marriage equality, gun safety, voting rights, the climate crisis, anything you could think of, we think that’s not given enough focus,” said Christina Harvey, the executive director of Stand Up America. She added: “It’s pretty scary right now. I have a 12-year-old daughter who is in school every day, and frankly the decision last week eliminating the bump stop ban was pretty frightening.”

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