WASHINGTON -- The National Organization for Marriage launched a new ad Tuesday criticizing Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) for voting to confirm a federal judge who went on to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage this month.
But what the ad fails to mention -- aside from the fact that judges rule independently from Congress -- is that nearly everyone in the Senate voted to confirm U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn back in March 2011, including North Carolina's other senator, Republican Richard Burr, who helped lead the effort to usher Cogburn through the nomination process.
NOM's ad, called "Kay Hagan's Judge," reasons that because Hagan voted to confirm Cogburn in March 2011, it's her fault that he rejected the state's same-sex marriage ban this month. The ad urges voters to take out their anger over that ruling by replacing Hagan with GOP Senate challenger Thom Tillis.
"Same-sex marriage has been imposed by a federal judge handpicked and confirmed by Kay Hagan, without voters getting our day in court," states the ad, which is running statewide this week. "Kay Hagan and her judge betrayed us. Send them a message. Vote Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate."
But an activist judge Cogburn is not. He cleared the judiciary committee in a unanimous voice vote, and later passed the full Senate 96-0 -- hardly a sign of concerns about his judicial independence. Burr sang Cogburn's praises during his confirmation hearing.
"He is an excellent choice and I believe will be a great addition to the court," Burr said at the November 2010 hearing. He ticked off Cogburn's accomplishments: a Stanford law degree, experience as a Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney and a magistrate judge, and time "spent teaching others how to herd cattle and shoot straight" at a dude ranch.
"Out of all the qualifications that Max Cogburn brings to this nomination, let me say this: He's a good man. And we need good individuals to serve on our bench," he said. "I highly recommend to the committee that we move as expeditiously [on] this nominee as we can."
NOM announced this week that it plans to spend $200,000 in the North Carolina and Arkansas Senate races. Brian Brown, the group's president, touted its "powerful new television ad" targeting Hagan.
"Hagan was the person who hand-picked the federal judge who invalidated the North Carolina marriage amendment without so much as giving voters a day in court," Brown said in a statement.
NOM sent out a fundraising email later Tuesday urging opponents of same-sex marriage to give the group money to "take down liberals like North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan for trashing her own voters by supporting judicial tyranny and the redefinition of marriage."
A request for comment from NOM on the broad support Cogburn received during his confirmation process was not returned. A Hagan spokeswoman also did not respond to a request for comment.
The Hagan-Tillis race is one of the tightest in the nation. Hagan is currently holding a slight lead, at 44 percent to Tillis' 42 percent, according to an average by HuffPost Pollster.