On the first day of the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, Capitol police forcibly removed, handcuffed, and handed civil-disobedience charges to 70 people who had traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest Donald Trump’s wildly unpopular SCOTUS nominee. Within the first 30 minutes of the hearing, demonstrators were on their feet, demanding the Senate adjourn the hearing and “cancel Brett Kavanaugh;” on the second day of the hearing, protesters started their disruption just ten minutes in.
“Sham president, sham justice,” “Stop slaughtering our children,” and “Mother earth,” four people yelled — including one woman in a wheelchair — before police forced them out of the room. The New York Post reports that at least half a dozen protesters have been removed from the hearing room so far (it is unclear whether they too have been charged with civil disobedience).
Even with arrest as a potential deterrent, many leaders of progressive organizations say this type of protest is necessary, especially given the Democratic Establishment’s disappointing response to Kavanaugh’s nomination. While ostensibly liberal leaders have failed to vocally condemn the conservative judge — who activists say would criminalize abortion, gut the Affordable Care Act and chip away at voting rights — protesters have been putting their bodies on the line, long before the confirmation hearings even began.
“We had to take this step because what we’re seeing is that senators aren’t doing everything that they can to oppose Kavanaugh, so we have to,” Shaunna Thomas, the executive director and co-founder of women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, told the Cut after she was arrested on Tuesday. “People who understand how high the stakes are are stepping up in ways I’ve never seen before. This is what we have to do at this point.”