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In Early TV Battle Over Supreme Court Nominee, Roberts Backers Outspend His Critics Nearly 8 to 1

August 26, 2005

For Immediate Release
Friday, August 26, 2005

Contact Information:
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
Jesse Rutledge, Justice at Stake, 202 588–9454

In Early TV Battle Over Supreme Court Nominee, Roberts Backers Outspend His Critics Nearly 8 to 1

New York, NY & Washington, DC Supporters of President Bush and his Supreme Court nominee, Judge John Roberts, have outspent opponents on television advertising at a pace of nearly 8 to 1 ($1,274,025 to $165,114) since Roberts was nominated on July 19. This reverses the trend before the nomination was announced, when the Administrations critics narrowly outspent its supporters ($200,466 to $120,591). From January 1 through August 21, interest groups have spent an estimated $1.77 million on ads meant to influence selection and confirmation of a nominee. The figures come from the first in a series of reports being released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.

Virtually all of the money spent by supporters came from the conservative Progress for America, which has spent just under $1.4 million on ads this year in an effort to build support for President Bushs choice to the U.S. high court. To date, most of Progress for Americas advertising has appeared on national cable networks, seen by viewers in all 50 states, and the vast majority of its spending over $1,273,965 of its $1,394,556 million in TV airtime buys has appeared since Judge Roberts was nominated.

Since the nomination, television viewers in most states had been getting only one side of the debate, said Deborah Goldberg, Democracy Program Director at the Brennan Center. But, just this week, a number of liberal groups formally announced their opposition to the nomination, so things may be about to change.

Most of the ad money to date has been spent to provide a positive definition of Judge Roberts, which is traditional in the opening weeks of a campaign, said Bert Brandenburg, Executive Director of the Justice at Stake Campaign. Until this point, most potential opponents of Judge Roberts have been urging Congress and the country not to rush to judgment.

Progress for America has run three ads:

a spot before the nomination was made, arguing that Democrats will attack anyone the president nominates

a spot praising Judge Roberts, arguing Shouldn’t a fair judge be treated fairly?
a spot saying A far left Democratic group is making a desperate and false attack recklessly distorting Judge Roberts’ record

As of August 21, only one groupNARALhad aired spots opposing Judge Roberts outright. The NARAL ad, which aired in Maine, Rhode Island and Washington, DC, said Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber.

Another group,, ran a handful of ads on cable television attacking the Bush administration for withholding important documents from Senators. We need the facts. Before the Senate votes to give John Roberts a lifetime appointment.

Two groups critical of President Bush ran ads before he announced the nomination:

MoveOn ran ads in early Julyin Maine, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia saying, Will George Bush choose an extremist, who will threaten our rights and support even more government intrusion into our lives?

People for the American Way ran a spot in early Julyin Washington, DCasking if the Presidents legacy would be choosing a judge who protects our fundamental rights and freedoms, or will he divide the country, trying to force through a judge, who threatens our basic rights as Americans?

Storyboards and streaming video, as well as an explanation of the methodology used to compile this report, are available online at or

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the Justice at Stake Campaign are teaming up to provide regular snapshots of the television advertising campaigns related to the confirmation of Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court. The groups regularly collaborate on analyses of interest group advertising in state Supreme Court elections. The data for the project is gathered by TNS-Media Intelligence/CMAG, which tracks advertising in the nations top 100 Designated Market Areas and on national cable television.