Shouting protesters and sharp exchanges between senators dominated the opening hours of the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Protesters rained down cries and accusations from the back of the hearing room Tuesday calling Kavanaugh an “enemy of women’s rights” and “a threat to this democracy.” The nominee, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, largely ignored the disruptions behind him, staring ahead at the senators before him.
The protests came as Democratic senators spent much of the first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing urging Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to adjourn until they had time to review documents from Kavanaugh’s career, particularly from his time working in former President George W. Bush’s White House. Grassley declined to do so, pressing forward with the contentious and at times chaotic hearing.
The committee received over 40,000 pages of documents Monday night from Bill Burck, a lawyer for the former president Bush, to the ire of Democrats who complain that they haven’t had time to consider those records.
The senators are also demanding the production of more documents that the White House and Justice Department have withheld, citing executive privilege. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, complained on Tuesday morning that committee members have only had access to around 10 percent of the body of work from Kavanaugh’s career. “Just common sense says we should have access to thoroughly evaluate this person,” he said.
As senators spoke, protests frequently erupted in the back of the room.
“This should be an impeachment hearing,” yelled one protester as she was dragged out.
“This is a mockery and a travesty of justice,” cried another.
“You must vote no! You must vote no!” shouted one woman.
One male protester was physically pulled from the room by Capitol Hill officers, as Grassley defended the transparency of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Kavanaugh arrived Tuesday morning to a packed committee room, where his wife and two daughters sat behind him. White House Counsel Donald McGahn, a top aide for Kavanaugh’s nomination, was seated in the front row. Former clerks who have publicly advocated in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination also peppered the audience, including Zina Bash, who is part of Kavanaugh’s confirmation team and was seated next to McGahn, and Travis Lenkner, a managing partner at Keller Lenkner.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had a front-row seat for part of Tuesday’s hearing. He exchanged handshakes with senators, including Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona.
The heads of various legal and civil rights organizations opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination also attended Tuesday: Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center.
Meanwhile, protesters lined themselves outside the confirmation hearing room as well on Tuesday. A group of women, dressed in red robes, silently stood steps away from the Senate Judiciary room, a reference to the dystopian novel and television series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”