Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday was interrupted within minutes, thanks to activists protesting his nomination. They are trying to stop the hearing, a challenging feat without Senate Democrats, given that police at one point blocked their entry.
Judge Kavanaugh is set to be confirmed for a lifetime appointment on the court by a president under investigation — and so, drastic times call for drastic measures. Progressive activists camped out overnight, waiting in line to get into the hearing room to protest. Seeking to get 51 “no” votes, activists occupied Senate offices and have even vowed to fund the campaign of Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-ME) midterm challenger should the Maine senator vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
While activists wage an all-out war to stop Kavanaugh’s nomination, they worry that Democratic leadership in the Senate are not doing the same.
“The Supreme Court is on the line, and you are failing us,” begins a letter written by 13 progressive groups, many of which are leading the #StopKavanaugh protests, addressed to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“Your job as Senate Democratic leader is to lead your caucus in complete opposition to Trump’s attempted Supreme Court takeover and to defend everyone threatened by a Trump Supreme Court,” they write. “But unbelievably, nearly two dozen Democrats have still not come out against Kavanaugh, and just last week, you helped Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast track 15 Trump judicial nominees. That is not the leadership we need.”
The groups — including Indivisible, Justice Democrats, and the Women’s March — say the progressive base is closely watching and will want to elect candidates who stand up for “the people Trump threatens, not ones who compromise or cower.” This point is especially pronounced given recent Democratic incumbent upsets — including one from just last night.
Democrats in the Senate don’t have the numbers to defeat the Kavanaugh nomination alone. To block him, they need 51 “no” votes and they have only 49. Even so, activists contend there is more Schumer could do. He could make sure red-state Democrats don’t flip because anti-choice activists falsely contend that most voters are anti-abortion. In fact, support for Roe v. Wade has never been stronger.
“The single most important thing Sen. Schumer could do today is announce that the entire Senate Democratic caucus will oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” said Josh Nelson, co-director with CREDO Action, a group who organized the letter and funded mobile billboards throughout Washington, D.C. that call out the Senate leader.
“This is the most consequential fight of Sen. Schumer’s career. He must use every tool at his disposal – including persuasion, committee assignments, leadership roles and access to fundraising – to unite his caucus in opposition to Kavanaugh,” he added.
Nelson did applaud Democrats who disrupted Tuesday’s hearing, adding that they should double down on Wednesday.
Activists, for their part, are doubling down. Ten individuals were arrested after staging protests at Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) office on Wednesday. About 70 were arrested the day before. Many occupied the offices of Democrats yesterday, demanding they do more. They camped out in the offices of Sens. Schumer and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who’s hasn’t committed to voting no. Protesters with Hoosier Action and Women’s March Indiana were arrested and escorted out after six hours of direct action.
.@jenniferflynn and activists from @womensmarch and @CPDAction have officially occupied @chuckschumer’s office. They have ordered Chinese food and are raiding his mini-fridge. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/G33M2600UV
— Winifred (@WaywardWinifred) September 5, 2018
Others say Democrats can do more. They could, for example, get arrested with protesters and walk out of the hearing until Republicans turn over hundreds of documents from the Supreme Court nominee’s time in the White House.
But Wednesday’s hearing isn’t like Tuesday’s. So far, senators are asking predictable questions and Kavanaugh’s answers follow suit. Protesters are on the offensive. One activist in a wheelchair interrupted the hearing, yelling as Capitol Hill police pushed her out “we are not working with the Democrats, we are working with ourselves” — pushing back against Republicans who alluded to such alliance. It’s clear, however, that some activists would like there to be some coordinated strategy to stop Kavanaugh.