Demonstrators Gather At U.S. Capitol While Senate Confirms Kavanaugh
Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET
The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, while protesters gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to voice their anger at the decision.
Kavanaugh's confirmation felt nearly inevitable by Friday afternoon, when two previously undecided senators, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced they would support him. But that near-certainty did not stop protesters from gathering outside the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court early Saturday.
Protesters could be found inside the U.S. Capitol as well. Vice President Pence, presiding over the Senate, began Saturday's final vote by reminding people gathered in the gallery that "expressions of approval or disapproval are not permitted" there. But as soon as Pence motioned to proceed with the vote, protesters began yelling. It started with a few voices; one person could be heard yelling, "Where's my representation? I did not consent." The voices grew louder and louder. The Senate proceeded with the vote, but Pence repeatedly called for order to be restored in the gallery.
When Manchin's name was called and he announced his vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation, yells of "shame!" could be heard from the gallery and Pence momentarily suspended the vote a second time to ask for order to be restored.
NPR's Scott Detrow reported that as of around 1 p.m. ET Saturday, some protesters had broken through barriers set up in front of the Capitol and had made it as far as the main plaza and steps, where police began to slowly remove people one by one.
As of about 4:30 ET, the U.S. Capitol Police confirmed a total of 164 arrests. One hundred fifty people were arrested on the East Front of the Capitol at about 12:45 p.m. At about 2:30 p.m, one person was arrested in the Senate gallery. And at about 3:45 p.m., during the Senate vote, 13 people were arrested and removed from several Senate galleries. All of these individuals were charged with "crowding, obstructing or incommoding" (to incommode is to inconvenience someone).
NPR's Shannon Van Sant said anti-Kavanaugh protesters, of which she saw hundreds, far outnumbered Kavanaugh's supporters in front of the Capitol but that a small group of Kavanaugh supporters had shown up. And she said many of the demonstrators, regardless of their opinions about the Supreme Court nominee, shared a common sentiment: They don't feel their voices are being heard.
Sophia Piper, a 16-year-old from Kavanaugh's hometown of Bethesda, Md., told Van Sant she chose to demonstrate against Kavanaugh's confirmation Saturday "in support of all survivors who have told their stories and been met with disbelief from their parents, law enforcement, any other adult in power in their lives."
Though she knew Kavanaugh's chances of confirmation would be high when she arrived Saturday, Piper said, she still felt a sense of optimism. Seeing all the anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators, she said, made her feel confident about the next generation and the upcoming midterm elections. "No matter what happens this afternoon, I am going to continue to support survivors," Piper said.
Jayme Zovko, a pro-Kavanaugh demonstrator from Pittsburgh, told Van Sant that she supports Kavanaugh because of his judicial record and her belief that "he'll be neutral in his decisions."
She wanted to make clear, however, that her support of Kavanaugh does not mean she does not believe in the validity of the #MeToo movement. "Just because I support him does not mean I don't support that idea that women should be listened to," Zovko said. "But ... not all women are truthful. The #MeToo movement — it's an important movement ... but I don't believe Ford's claims."
Zovko said she believes the anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators have "good intentions."
"I'm heartened today," she added. "We spoke to a gal who does not support Kavanaugh and had a good discussion with her, very respectful."
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