WASHINGTON — The Senate Democrats on Wednesday railed against Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation to the Supreme Court and were poised to try to do away with the Senate’s process for confirming judges.
The move was expected to take place after the Senate’s morning session and pierce one of the most formidable paces of the confirmation process, an all-night session where they have screened nominees for 60 hours. It also was likely to take place on the eve of a Monday hearing before the Judiciary Committee on allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.
Republicans did not seem to be dismayed. They were planning on a full day of questions and votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination before going home to prepare for Monday’s hearings.
Watch the Democrats rousing their supporters, D.C. circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh set for confirmation
“This is unprecedented, and it is very clear what their intent is,” Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said before the evening debate. “They want to jam this down our throats.”
Grassley insisted that the process had been fair and transparent. “The Senate has not broken the rules of this institution. It hasn’t broken the rules of the Constitution. It hasn’t broken the rules of history and precedent,” he said.
Grassley and majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to answer questions after the session, instead sending aides to speak to reporters.
Democrats were, however, threatening to make Republican and Democratic leaders squirm over the long hours the Senate had gone through and the only times they would limit the cameras and microphones they would allow to cover the proceedings.
“It appears that we’re not going to be able to have any more of these tactics,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said.
With Kavanaugh now likely to be on the court, the Democrats also tried to put pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Senate’s unusual powers of “murder” to get some Republican votes by acting as “captain of the ship” and quashing all potential floor objections from Democratic senators. Pence has not specifically been pressed to do so.
Democrats also praised statements of support from eight women — including Anita Hill — who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment or assault.
The unsuccessful attempt by Senate Democrats to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination was one of the most dramatic moments of a dramatic week that saw Kavanaugh withdraw from consideration in the face of the new allegations and raise questions about why three women were identified in the final debate and two did not respond to the Democratic requests for their testimonies.