Mr. Trump’s final choice was almost a moot point.
The groups drew up mock websites to promote the candidates they thought most likely to be picked, working from the list of 21 names Mr. Trump said comprised his finalists. They started planning megachurch gatherings and produced television commercials that would be ready to ship out as soon as the nominee was known. And on Tuesday night, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, one of the three dozen groups involved, pushed the button to print 1.8 million postcards that will go out to supporters in a dozen states that were carried by Mr. Trump but have Democratic senators.
The design and messaging — “Emergency Call to Action!” — were already set. All the group needed to do was to plug in Judge Gorsuch’s name and picture into the blank spaces on its template.
The Judicial Crisis Network started working on its campaign for Judge Gorsuch weeks ago, building on the organizational work it had done to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland for the Scalia seat. For Judge Gorsuch, as well as other possible nominees from Mr. Trump’s list they considered likely, they located videos of old speeches, pictures of him and his family and legal writings. They had even already purchased the URL for a promotional website, ConfirmGorsuch.com. The site went live Tuesday night at 8:05.
“In this Week 1 and Week 2,” he vowed, “you’re going to see shock and awe.” The Judicial Crisis Network has said it will spend $10 million on a campaign to support Mr. Gorsuch.
In a demonstration of how closely Mr. Trump plans to rely on the coalition, he gathered several of its leaders at the White House on Wednesday, including the N.R.A. president, Wayne LaPierre; the antitax activist Grover Norquist; and Marjorie Dannenfelser, who heads the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion. The scene, in the Roosevelt Room, was a vivid reminder of how the changeover in Washington has opened the White House door to conservative movement players who found themselves shut out for the last eight years.
The breadth of their effort underscores what the movement considers to be at stake. Business regulations, abortion restrictions, religious expression and voting rights could all be before the court in the coming years.
The mobilization now underway illustrates the unique power that the Supreme Court has in energizing the right. Exit polls showed that 21 percent of voters said the court was the most important factor in their decision. Mr. Trump overwhelmingly carried them, 57 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent.
In an attempt to placate skeptical conservatives during his campaign, he took the unprecedented step of providing movement leaders with the list of names from which he would pick, leaving activists reasonably assured that they would be comfortable with his decision. They felt that assurance because many of them — including those now working on the Gorsuch confirmation campaign — suggested the names in the first place.
“He was smart enough to understand that he needed to make that promise, and in a highly tangible and credible way,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and one of the conservative leaders Mr. Trump invited to the White House on Tuesday to watch the Gorsuch announcement. “That was, of course, because of the deep paranoia on the right that he would betray him.”Photo
In the end, 81 percent of white evangelicals, a group Mr. Trump initially struggled to win over, voted for him.
Now, many of them — and more — are going to battle for him. The Susan B. Anthony List is working to pressure Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018.
The Family Research Council is planning a simulcast that will be broadcast in evangelical churches across the country to rally support for Judge Gorsuch. “The presidential election energized people in a way I have not seen,” said Tony Perkins, the group’s president, who was also at the White House on Tuesday night. “The evangelical community is engaged. They’re basically waiting for direction.”