A left-leaning group that advocates for liberal judges took out an ad in Thursday’s Des Moines Register pressuring eight members of the Democratic Caucus to block President Trump’s judicial nominees.

“Any one of these Democrats could be a progressive hero by blocking the Senate from cutting any more deals on Trump’s judges,” the Demand Justice ad reads atop head shots of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democrats, was also featured.

The senators singled out by the group share one thing in common: They’re all considered possible candidates for president.

Which is why Demand Justice took out the ad in Iowa — a state all of these senators will find themselves spending a lot of time visiting next year if they decide to run.


An ad by Demand Justice appears Thursday in the Des Moines Register. (Demand Justice)

Now, unfortunately for Demand Justice’s budget but good for its mission, it’s looking as though the ad may be unnecessary. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled Wednesday that he won’t accept a year-end package to confirm Trump’s judicial nominations.

“There will not be a judges package,” a Senate Democratic aide said.

In the summer and again in the fall, Schumer got a lot of heat from liberal groups when he allowed the Senate to confirm several of Trump’s judicial nominees with little or no debate. The Democratic leader said he agreed to the deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to give his vulnerable Democratic incumbents time to campaign back in their states. Democrats are ginned up to resist the appointment of any conservative judges after a federal district judge in Texas ruled Friday night that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said the package of judges includes a mix of those nominated first under President Barack Obama and again under Trump, featuring nominees supported by Democratic senators but also some with conservative ideologies on cultural issues such as religious freedom.

It remains to be seen whether Schumer maintains a hard line on the judges, but one liberal group is making it hard for him to backtrack.

In a statement, Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said: “We applaud Leader Schumer for rejecting any rushed procedure for consideration of Trump’s judicial nominees.”

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.