MoveOn Courts Public Opinion

WASHINGTON The first advertising salvo in what is expected to be a bitter fight over the replacement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor launches today with a message from the liberal advocacy group MoveOn PAC, which calls on President George W. Bush not to nominate an extremist to fill the vacancy.

The 30-second spot, created by Zimmerman & Markman in Santa Monica, Calif., opens with the image of protesters outside a hospice where Terri Schiavo died after her husband won a court battle to take the Florida woman off a respirator.

A voiceover says, “It was the last place the federal government needed to be. A family crisis affecting the most personal rights of all.”

The image then shifts to Bush signing the Schiavo bill, which transferred the case to a federal judge for review after Schiavo’s parents lost a court battle to stop the removal of their daughter’s feeding tube.

The voiceover continues, “And there was George Bush, playing politics with our personal rights once again.” The spot ends with the image of an empty Supreme Court chair above the caption, “Will George Bush choose an extremist?”

MoveOn spent about $280,000 in paid media on the spot, which will air on CNN in Maine, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia, and on Fox in New York and Washington, D.C.