Within moments of Brett Kavanaugh being announced as President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, outside groups across the political spectrum began raising money — some in favor of confirmation and others aiming to defeat the judge. A few groups even jumped the gun and sent out their solicitation emails before the announcement was made, leaving the place for the nominee’s name blank. Free speech and the opportunity to support or oppose nominees or elected officials is absolutely legal and a protected right under the Constitution. The question is, “at what cost?”

Weeks before an actual hearing is convened in the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, millions of dollars are being raised and spent to pressure and influence senators to vote in favor or against Kavanaugh. Politico noted that in the first few days following the nomination, the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network committed more than $3.8 million for media ads. Demand Justice, a liberal group, has pledged $5 million to block Kavanaugh. That's nearly $10 million from just two groups. These numbers will continue to spiral upward as the debate heats up and the hearings begin.

It is conceivable that by the time Judge Kavanaugh receives a vote in the Senate, sometime in late September, that $30-50 million or more will have been raised and spent. Should it really take $50 million to confirm a Supreme Court justice?

The prime targets for Kavanaugh supporters will include Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Doug Jones of Alabama. These are Democratic senators up for re-election in states President Trump won handily in 2016. The liberal Kavanaugh detractors will spend big in attempts to sway Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Those who will be most influenced by the spending will be the local TV and radio stations who will have a windfall of cash from ad revenue.

Similarly, before President Trump’s confusing and controversial press conference with Vladimir Putin had ended, groups and politicians were trying to capitalize on the action. Some were calling for donations in order to impeach the president for "treason," while others were raising cash to defend him against the "liberal media." Even former Ohio Gov. John Kaisich made an odd stretch of a plea for cash, declaring himself in need of contributions because he is a lone voice.

Many consider Capitol Hill to be the home of the swamp. There is also a special-interest industrial complex that keeps the swamp sufficiently swampy — with money. The chase to bring in enough cash to keep operations rolling is dependent on crisis creation. Far too many organizations have lost the sense of mission and purpose for which they were originally organized. In fact, if the solutions the groups purport to support were actually solved, the organization would be out of business. Far easier to promote protest, division and pending calamity.

And therein lies the problem: The protest culture doesn’t solve problems, except for the financial problems of the group or individual asking for money.

There are many good, earnest and honest organizations, and all individuals and organizations have a right to free speech. Citizens should vet organizations before they donate to check their legitimacy. It is also wise to assess what portion of a donation goes to organizational overhead and staff.

Should it take $50 million or more to determine if a Supreme Court nominee is qualified to serve? Barring a catastrophe of epic proportions, the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh is a near certainty. All the money spent on both sides may do little do sway the outcome, but the money will come and go and enrich those who raise and spend it.

Principles of free speech currently allow for such donations. But everyone is free to exercise their right to speech by standing for principle and not giving in to petty rhetoric. In America, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Citizens express ultimate power not through dollars and donations, but by voting and engaging in civil dialogue.