Groups on left and right head to battleground states for fight over Kavanaugh

Concerned Women For America is launching a bus tour to support Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh’s fate could be determined by a handful of senators in midterm battleground states. This August, in an effort to sway those senators’ support, influential organizations from across the political spectrum have been ramping up grassroots campaign efforts. At the heart of their efforts is the understanding that so many Supreme Court decisions come down to a 5-4 vote, and Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote on polarizing issues like abortion and religious liberty.

Concerned Women For America, a conservative, anti-abortion rights group, is launching a six-state tour in support of Kavanaugh this month. The tour, costing almost half a million dollars, will kick off on Aug. 8 in Iowa and weave its way through states where Trump won but a Democrat has a Senate seat -- like West Virginia, Missouri and North Dakota.

The goal is to encourage state residents to put the pressure on Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, and Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, to vote in favor Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

All eyes were on Manchin on Monday after he met with Kavanaugh in Congress to see if a vulnerable red-state Democrat was ultimately swayed -- but he left the meeting without signaling his support, only saying it was “very productive.”

“These are key states in which there are senators who need to hear from women in their state,” Penny Nance, President of Concerned Women For America said. “These are states that President Trump carried and we know that the voters there feel very strongly about this issue.”

The group will be heading on a red bus with “Women for Kavanaugh” written across the side to places like “state fairs, Chick-fil-As and Bass Pro Shops” said Nance, to meet with local people and encourage them to speak to their senators. One of the issues galvanizing the most attention with Kavanaugh’s nomination is whether or not the conservative jurist would support an overturn of the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.

“The reversal of Roe v. Wade would simply allow states to decide, and the Supreme Court over the past few decades has taken away the ability for states to set their own policy. We are advocating that states like Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia and Alabama and all the states we’re visiting should be able to set their own policy on the issue of abortion,” said Nance.

On the other side of the political spectrum, NARAL Pro-Choice, Demand Justice and Planned Parenthood are starting their own grassroots efforts ranging from rallies to op-eds mobilize abortion-rights activists in key states. For example, on Tuesday, a NARAL member from Maine wrote against Kavanaugh in the Bangor Daily News. Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican and frequent swing vote, represents Maine.

“With the very real possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am forced to consider what could have happened if my husband and I were not allowed to make the right choice for our family,” wrote Mollie Barnathan.

“Maine’s women and families need leaders who understand it isn’t their place to play judge and jury for women. Ensuring every woman has access to family planning services requires every U.S. senator, and especially Susan Collins, to stand up and vote no on Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

NARAL will be working with partner organizations to do a 50-state day of action in late August.

“This is about holding senators accountable,” Amanda Thayer, spokesperson for NARAL said. “This is also about making a bigger statement -- it’s about much more than a vote on one Supreme Court Justice.”

Conservative and liberal organizations have been anticipating fights over key constitutional issues for years and are pouring millions of dollars into ad buys and grassroots efforts to make their case for or against the person who could tilt the court in their favor.

“The Supreme Court is one of the key issues that turned conservative, evangelical, and Catholic women out for the election, and the president has been true to his word and he’s put a great candidate out there and we want to help him get over the finish line,” Nance said.

“He’s the kind of jurist that we were hoping the president would appoint.”