From her office just behind the Supreme Court, Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network watched the money come in waves. It spiked when Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced he would retire, when President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan to succeed him and when Kagan started making news on Capitol Hill.
Across the ideological spectrum, Kagan's confirmation is a ripe opportunity for groups to push their agendas, mobilize their supporters and raise money. The organizations are pumping up the volume in the debate, knowing that their influence is measured largely by the intensity of their support or opposition.
"Ensure Elena Kagan gets a fair hearing," blares a headline on the website of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The future of women's access to abortion hangs in the balance," the group tells visitors to the site, asking them to urge senators to inquire about Kagan's stance on the Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion rights.
While they're at it, visitors are asked to give their names, mailing and e-mail addresses — and their cell phone numbers, which NARAL says it will use to send "urgent" text messages.