WASHINGTON, DC — More than a thousand people marched to the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to protest Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.
The march began at the D.C. Circuit Court, where Kavanaugh currently serves, and the group marched to the National Mall before heading up Capitol Hill on their way to the Supreme Court, chanting and holding signs as they walked.
As the crowd entered the mall, marching in 90-degree heat, they chanted, “Whose court? Our court!” A taxi driver honked along supportively.
Later, as they headed toward the Capitol building, they chanted, “Shut it down!” and “Kavanaugh’s not welcome here, say it loud, say it clear!”
One woman, Melinda Nolan, 53, told ThinkProgress she flew to D.C. from Atlanta, Georgia to join the protest, and that she has been arrested four times in the last six weeks protesting Kavanaugh.
“I’m not going to talk about my daughter or my granddaughter, because this is not a women’s issue,” Nolan said. “This is not a Democratic Party issue. This is a human issue.”
On Wednesday night, Republicans announced the FBI had finished its supplementary background investigation into the assault claims against Kavanaugh. Senators were able to review a report of the investigation Thursday, and Republicans — some even before viewing the report — claimed the investigation exonerated the nominee.
The investigation lasted less than a week, however, and was considerably restricted by Republican senators and the White House, who initially instructed the FBI to question only a handful of people: two high school friends of Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth; Leland Keyser, a friend of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s; Ford herself; and Deborah Ramirez, another woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Senate Republicans disputed that claim Thursday, saying no one had given the FBI instructions on who to interview.
After the investigation was closed, Ford’s attorneys told reporters she was never questioned, and several people who said they could corroborate Ramirez’s story told reporters at The New York Times and The New Yorker that they had also struggled to contact the FBI with information.
At the march Thursday, protesters told ThinkProgress they were disappointed by the investigation.
“Trump, in this circumstance, he could’ve asked them to do a real thorough investigation,” Nolan said. “FBI agents, they are at the direction of the president, and they can’t do anything that their leader doesn’t tell them to do…. It isn’t the FBI we need to be worried about, it’s a president who will undermine any jurisdiction…to get what he wants, and he wants this man on here.”
As the march began to climb Capitol Hill, they chanted, “Believe survivors, not drunken liars.” As they passed Senate office buildings, some congressional staffers could be seen watching the march from balconies or looking out windows. The crowd chanted, “November is coming.”
One young woman at the march held a giant sign that read, “Brett Kavanaugh Sexually Shamed a woman in public. He wrote ‘Renate Alunmi.’ Then lied about it under oath.”
The woman, Alicia, who did not share her last name, said she was 21 and from Alaska. She came to D.C. in hopes of talking to her senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is considered a pivotal vote on Kavanaugh as one of the only pro-choice Republicans in the chamber.
“I’m wanting [Murkowski] to believe survivors and understand that putting someone as unfit and unpredictable as Kavanaugh in that position, it would be detrimental to the rest of the United States,” Alicia said. “Women, people of color, people with disabilities, so many will be affected, and so many lives will be changed, including my own.”
Alicia also said she was upset by the lack of thorough investigation by the FBI, as did Kourtney Mason, a 24-year-old victims advocate who wore a black robe she bedazzled, which read, “I BELIEVE HER” in rhinestones on the back.
“I think [Republicans] have already made their minds up,” Mason said. “So just to make it look nice, they were like, ‘We’re gonna do a report, it’s not really gonna be deep into it, we’re just gonna do it because they’re complaining we’re not gonna do it, so just to cover our asses, here we go.'”
The march heads up the Hill. pic.twitter.com/Zlk8Jcmesj
— Addy Baird 👽 (@addysue) October 4, 2018
After the group arrived at the Supreme Court, a series of speakers took the mic to share their own stories of assault, and encouraged the enormous crowd to talk to their families and friends. Many of the speakers were survivors from Alaska, Maine, and Arizona, the home states of Murkowski and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), all of whom remain undecided on Kavanaugh.
“[Murkowski] will not ever be the senator of Alaska again if she votes yes,” one woman said, as the crowd cheered.
Another said she wanted to address Collins specifically, saying, “Do you believe survivors matter? Believe me. Believe us.”
Taxi driver honks along to a “Whose courts? Our courts!” chants pic.twitter.com/RPnegVeg2Z
— Addy Baird 👽 (@addysue) October 4, 2018
Thursday’s rally was held exactly one week after Ford testified under oath about her alleged assault by Kavanaugh while the two were in high school. Ford said Kavanaugh forced himself on her, groped her over her clothes, and tried to pull off her clothing. When she tried to scream, he then covered her mouth with his hand and turned up the music in the room to muffle her cries.
She said during her testimony that she believed Kavanaugh might accidentally kill her.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that, at a party in college, Kavanaugh thrust his penis into her face against her wishes, causing her to touch it, and a third woman, Julie Swetnick, says she was gang raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present, stopping short of directly implicating him in the attack. She wrote in a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh was among a group of boys with whom she associated, who she claimed frequently spiked women’s drinks or drugged them in order to rape them.
During the rally, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-SD), one of a small group of Democrats who voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, announced she would vote against Kavanaugh.
“Last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty and impartiality,” Heitkamp said in a statement announcing her decision. “These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in the country.”
In response to her decision, The Women’s March, which organized Thursday’s protest, tweeted, “When we march WE WIN.”
The entire building is echoing with chants of “BELIEVE SURVIVORS” pic.twitter.com/SKxjj19MC7
— Women's March (@womensmarch) October 4, 2018
Hoping to flip additional undecided senators, much of the group from the rally later took to the Hart Senate building, where they chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Kavanaugh has got to go,” and unfurled a giant banner that read, “We believe all survivors.”
The Senate plans to vote on Kavanaugh Friday.