Ads assail conservative legal group over Trump’s court picks

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch speaks at the Federalist Society's 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington. A liberal activist group is launching a digital ad campaign targeting the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that has championed judges appointed by President Donald Trump, including Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. The ads, to appear on LinkedIn and Facebook, target major law firms that were sponsored the Federalist Societys annual dinner.  (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch speaks at the Federalist Society's 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington. A liberal activist group is launching a digital ad campaign targeting the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that has championed judges appointed by President Donald Trump, including Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. The ads, to appear on LinkedIn and Facebook, target major law firms that were sponsored the Federalist Societys annual dinner. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz, File)

WASHINGTON, DC – A liberal activist group is launching a digital ad campaign targeting the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that has championed judges appointed by President Donald Trump, such as Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

The ads, to appear on LinkedIn and Facebook, assail major law firms that sponsored the Federalist Society’s recently annual dinner, where Kavanaugh addressed more than 2,000 people in tuxedos and gowns at Washington’s Union Station.

The ads feature photos of a snarling Kavanaugh, along with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, a charge he denied. “The Federalist Society is rebuilding Kavanaugh’s image” through events such as its annual dinner, the ad charges, so why are the law firms paying for it?

Sponsored by Demand Justice, the ads target a half-dozen prominent firms that sponsored the dinner, such as Kirkland & Ellis, where Kavanaugh served as a partner, as well as Sullivan & Cromwell, WilmerHale and Consovoy McCarthy, where a senior partner was recently confirmed as a federal appellate judge.

The bare-knuckle ads are a rarity in the city’s genteel legal world and an example of the increasing toxicity of the political debate over Trump’s judicial nominees.

Demand Justice says the ads are the beginning of a sustained campaign “to hold accountable” people who help the Federalist Society “rehabilitate a sexual predator and attack the rule of law.”

The Federalist Society declined to comment. Carrie Severino, a longtime Federalist Society member and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, called criticism by Demand Justice and other liberal groups a badge of honor.

The Federalist group “is a successful network of conservatives and conservative lawyers that are very effective,” Severino said. Liberal critics “don’t like that,” she added.