POLITICS
03/28/2017 04:44 pm ET Updated Mar 28, 2017

NRA Pours $1 Million Into Senate Fight Over Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Ad buys in key states target Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018.

The National Rifle Association is investing $1 million of its own money in the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

The group announced Tuesday that it’s buying up ads supporting Gorsuch in the states of Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri and Montana — all states Trump won in 2016 where Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018.

None of the four senators has indicated their intentions on the nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch is an outstanding nominee and will protect our fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement. “We will be fully activating our five million members in support of his confirmation.”

In his decade on the bench, Gorsuch hasn’t had an opportunity to rule on what the Constitution says about gun rights, but he told senators during his confirmation hearing last week that a key Supreme Court ruling from 2008 on the issue “is the law of the land.”

In the ad targeting Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a narrator warns viewers, “Your freedom is on the line. President Trump chose a pro-gun judge for the Supreme Court.”

The ad then tells the senator to go against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who last week said he’d vote no on Gorsuch and urged Democratic senators to join him in blocking an up-or-down vote on his nomination. The other three senators the NRA targets are Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (Missouri).

Since Gorsuch’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Democratic senators have been ramping up their efforts to oppose the judge. So far, more than 20 have announced that they’ll oppose Gorsuch and join Schumer’s filibuster.

At least 41 are needed to block his nomination — which means Republicans, who are in the majority and have 52 voting senators, would need to convince eight Democratic senators to advance a Gorsuch vote to the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who led the blockade of Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, said Tuesday he expects Gorsuch will be confirmed next Friday.

“It’s almost amusing to watch our Democratic friends try to come up with some rationale for opposition,” McConnell said, and added he’s “optimistic” that the announced Democratic filibuster won’t succeed.

Jennifer Bendery contributed reporting.

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