September 04, 2018
Dozens of protesters were arrested as Senate Democrats sought to delay a confirmation hearing for Trump’s supreme court nominee

Democrats and activists have staged a dramatic act of defiance against a Senate confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s nominee for the supreme court, after accusing the White House of withholding key documents.
The unified show of opposition against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh came as he made his first public testimony on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in the Senate judiciary committee are considering him for a seat on the highest court in America.
More than 30 women were arrested for protesting at the hearing over concerns about Kavanaugh’s stances on issues from abortion to LGBT rights, according to the Women’s March, which claimed credit for the protests.
Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, was named by Trump in June as the president’s nominee to replace the retiring supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed, Kavanaugh is poised to tip the balance of the court in a decisively conservative direction for decades to come.
Democrats have a minority of seats in the Senate and few tools at their disposal to block the nomination. But they used the first day of the confirmation hearings to sound the alarm over what they say are missing records that would shed light on Kavanaugh’s tenure as a White House lawyer for George W Bush, and called for the hearings to be delayed.
Last week, the Trump White House said it would withhold about 100,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush administration, citing executive privilege.
Democrats further expressed outrage that 42,000 pages were released on Monday night, just hours before the hearing was set to begin, leaving them with no time to review the documents prior to before Kavanaugh’s Senate hearing.
The protests began mere moments after Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the judiciary committee, attempted to open the first hearing on Tuesday morning.
“We cannot possibly move forward,” Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, interjected. “We have not been given an opportunity to have a meaningful hearing on this nominee.”
Grassley pressed on, speaking over Harris as other Democrats on the committee took turns interrupting to demand the hearing be adjourned.
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“What are we trying to hide? Why are we rushing?” Patrick Leahy, a senator from Vermont, asked.
Tensions rose swiftly, as John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, decried Democrats for hijacking the hearing through “mob rule”.
The atmosphere underscored the significance of Trump’s second pick for the supreme court, after Kennedy’s retirement deprived the bench of what had been a critical swing vote.
Much of the concern over Kavanaugh’s nomination has centered on the future of Roe v Wade, the 1973 supreme court decision that legalized abortion in the US. At least two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they would not support a nominee who would overturn the landmark ruling.
Several protesters were escorted out of the room by security for obstructing the proceedings on Tuesday. They included Linda Sarsour, a prominent Palestinian American organizer and co-founder of the Women’s March, and activists from Code Pink, one of whom shouted “My daughter deserves the right to choose!” as she was dragged out by Capitol police.
Outside the hearing room, a group of women dressed in the red robes and white hats from The Handmaid’s Tale. Organizers said more than 30 women had been arrested for protesting the hearing.
According to a source familiar with the strategy, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, convened a call over the weekend in which he laid out tactics to Democratic members of the Senate. The choreographed dissent delayed an opening statement from Kavanaugh, who looked on in silence as the theatrics played out before a packed room.
Brett Kavanaugh: protests disrupt Senate supreme court hearing
In excerpts from his prepared remarks, Kavanaugh was expected to use the first day of the hearings to dub himself “a pro-law judge”.
“A good judge must be an umpire – a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” Trump’s nominee will state.
“I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge.”
Based on a rules change enacted by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, last year, Republicans can confirm the supreme court nominee with a simple majority vote. But they can afford to lose only one vote given their razor-thin majority over the chamber.
Although Kavanaugh is ultimately expected to be confirmed, Democrats are hoping to pressure moderates like Collins and Murkowski while shoring up grassroots support ahead of the November midterm elections.
Collins emerged from a meeting with Kavanaugh last week and told reporters he had assured her Roe v Wade was “settled law”, which had been interpreted as a fatal blow to efforts to sink the nomination,
Democrats are also expected to pepper Kavanaugh with questions over executive power and his experience working with Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Republicans have said it is their top priority to confirm Kavanaugh before the November midterms. As Democrats expressed mounting frustration over the process on Tuesday, Grassley lost his patience with the panel.
“Do you want to go on all afternoon?” he asked. Democrats were unmoved.
Richard Blumenthal, a senator from Connecticut, appealed once more for the hearing to be postponed. Otherwise, he said: “This process will be tainted and stained forever.”
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