Democrats and demonstrators fail in attempts to stall Kavanaugh hearing

September 5, 2018

As leading Democrats and public demonstrators repeatedly disrupted attempts to start the hearing, the first day of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process began on Capitol Hill on September 4, with Republicans flatly denying all request for delay.

Democrats—including Senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Corey Booker (New Jersey), and Kamala Harris (California)— pleaded for more time to review the more than 42,000 pages of additional documents from Kavanaugh’s earlier career that were had been handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee less than 24 hours earlier, and noted that the committee had ignored crucial parts of Kavanaugh’s White House record.

According to a report by The Hill, Senator Harris started the Democratic protests, saying that the senators could not “possibly move forward” given the late hand-over of documents. 

“We are rushing through this process in a way that’s unnecessary,” argued Senator Booker.

For his part, Senator Blumenthal called the committee’s handling of the documents a “charade” and a “mockery” to the chamber.

“If we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn,” Blumenthal said. “We have been denied real access to the documents we need.”

However, the news outlet said, amid jeers from protesters in the hearing room—22 of whom were removed by security within an hour—Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) rejected requests by Democrats for an adjournment, arguing the minority was simply trying to suspend the proceedings.

“I shouldn’t have to explain to you, we’re having a hearing. It’s out of order,” Grassley told the committee. The 84-year-old senator was at times drowned out by protestors or had to raise his voice to be heard in the packed committee room.

Grassley maintained that “senators have had more than enough time … to adequately access Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications.”

And Republicans expressed frustration with Democratic demands, arguing they were out of order for interrupting the proceedings.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the committee hearing was being run by “mob rule” and that if senators were in an actual courtroom, Democrats would be “held in contempt,” The Hill reported.

Grassley argued that his staff had already read the 42,000 pages handed over to the committee Monday on a “committee confidential” basis and there was “no reason to delay the hearing.”

Grassley also argued that the hearing was not an executive session and so would not hold a vote on adjourning the committee hearing.

But Blumenthal urged the committee to go into executive session and warned that the committee’s handling of Kavanaugh’s nomination “will be tainted and stained forever.”

Senators had received hundreds of thousands of pages from a legal team working for Bush. The National Archives is also reviewing documents from Kavanaugh’s work as a White House lawyer, but isn’t expected to be able to finish its work until the end of October. Republicans want to confirm Kavanaugh this month.

Republicans have refused to request documents from Kavanaugh’s three-year period as staff secretary in the White House, despite arguments from Democrats that they are crucial to understanding his thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

Democrats argue the three-year period is crucial to understanding Kavanaugh’s thoughts on issues like torture and interrogation.

“The fact that we can’t take a few days or weeks to have a complete review of Judge Kavanaugh’s record is unfair to the American people,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued.  

Meanwhile, In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday morning, Americans were split on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court— coming in at the the lowest support levels for a high court nominee in polling back to 1987. Thirty-eight percent of Americans say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, 39% not, with the rest undecided in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Only two nominees have had weaker public support: Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination, in 2005; and Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate in 1987.

Research contact: @jordainc

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