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'Walk Out!': Progressives Disgusted as Democrats Fold at Brett Kavanaugh Hearing

"Why legitimate the process by participating?"

Julia Conley

Several Democrats, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke out against holding Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing, but critics said their words mattered little after they agreed to continue with the proceedings instead of walking out of the hearing room. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As more than 30 people were dragged away in handcuffs on Tuesday for protesting during the confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, critics of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded a comparable show of courage and called on those lawmakers—who failed to win a delay of the proceedings—to simply end their participation and walk out.

"Women are disrupting this hearing today because our lives are at risk. Women will die if Kavanaugh is confirmed," said Rachel O'Leary Carmona of the Women's March, whose members were among those who disrupted the hearing, in an emailed statement. "Politicians on both sides of the aisle need to know—if you don't stop Kavanaugh, we will make you pay in November and in 2020. If you're a Democrat, we'll primary you—if you're a Republican, your seat will be flipped. The gloves are off, the rings are on, and we’re ready to resist the fight that chose us."

When the proceedings commenced at 9:00am, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) interrupted Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, to request that the hearing be postponed, citing the extremely late release of 42,000 pages of documents regarding Kavanaugh's time working in the George W. Bush administration. The records were released on Monday giving the panel a matter of hours to review them, after the White House had earlier claimed executive privilege in holding back 100,000 pages of records.

Harris's objections were followed by those of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who asked that the meeting be adjourned, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and other Democrats—eliciting some hope from Trump critics that the party might successfully stand up against the Republican attempt to ram through Kavanaugh's confirmation.

But those hopes were largely dashed when it became increasingly clear that the Democrats were not prepared for what would happen if Grassley refused to heed their calls, as he predictably did. The acquiescence was led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who ended the series of objections by delivering her prepared opening statement. The hearing then proceeded, albeit with some Democrats continuing to express their objections.

While progressives expressed disgust that too many Democrats appear ready to fold on Kavanaugh, it was some longtime Republicans who also called out the party for being political feeble in the face of the unprecedented process.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," former staffer to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Steve Schmidt remarked, "It seems Democrats are absolutely determined to bring butter knives to every gunfight forever," while host Joe Scarborough agreed the party was apparently "just quietly marching in line."

"This process is illegitimate," Scarborough said. "No judge in America would allow an opposing side to dump 150,000 documents on another party in a lawsuit the day before hearings started or a trial is started. I'm completely baffled. Why do Democrats—why are they even showing up? They should not show up."

On social media, critics demanded that Harris, Booker, and the other Democrats on the committee make a far stronger statement by refusing to continue the hearing and walking out.

As the hearing proceeded, Democrats including Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke out against Kavanaugh's views on the president's "immunity from the law" and the "35-month black hole" in his record due to the withholding of the documents.

But critics held that continuing with the hearing at all was a betrayal of constituents who are counting on Democratic senators to serve their interests—as Republicans went to extreme lengths to block President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, from even having a confirmation hearing in 2016 in order to serve their party's interests.


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