In the lead-up to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Senate Democrats gave progressive activists little reason to hope that they would match their intensity in fighting to keep him off the Supreme Court. But they came out with guns blazing on Tuesday morning, speaking over Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley’s introduction to demand that the hearing be adjourned until they could thoroughly vet documents related to the judge’s time in the George W. Bush administration, which had only been released the night before. Democrats remained feisty, which — combined with protester arrests, a viral handshake attempt, and a suspicious hand gesture — made for a pretty wild display (for a Senate hearing).
Democratic senators had considered making an even more dramatic scene, according to a Politico report published Tuesday night. Sources said that during a conference call on the eve of the hearing, Senate Democrats debated staging a mass walkout, or refusing to show up at all. But with Judiciary Committee Democrats divided between younger upstarts and veterans hesitant to completely buck Senate norms, they settled on merely disrupting the proceedings — for now.
There were reportedly concerns that a walkout might backfire, and this way Democratic voters got to watch their senators take Kavanaugh on, rather than stare at a half-empty chamber.
“We considered a lot of different options yesterday. This was the agreed approach,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin. “It really singles this hearing out as something unusual.”
“If I thought that there was a way that we could stop the hearings from proceeding, I would participate in that. But the hearings are going to proceed. And therefore, we are there to do our job,” said Senator Mazie Hirono.
The Hawaii senator may deliver another dramatic moment on Wednesday, as she plans to ask Kavanaugh what he knew about the behavior of his former boss Judge Alex Kozinski, who recently retired after being accused of touching or making unwanted sexual comments toward 15 women.
But those on the left who want their senators to deploy more dramatic, not-giving-Merrick Garland-a-hearing-level tactics should stay tuned. Per Politico:
Democrats haven’t ruled out a boycott or walkout in the future. Late Tuesday, a group of them huddled to hash out strategy in the office of Durbin, a senior member of the Judiciary panel, according to a Democratic aide.
Maybe Democrats can’t match Mitch McConnell’s brazen obstructionism, but now they’re thinking about it — or at least, they want their base to believe they’re thinking about it.