Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley attempted to gavel in the second day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday when shouting protesters began disrupting the hearings. Grassley said 70 people were arrested during the first day of hearings on Tuesday.
Kavanaugh will be answering questions from senators all day. Democratic senators are expected to press for his views on issues such as abortion, guns and executive power.
President Donald Trump nominated the 53-year-old appellate judge in July to fill the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
But liberal and progressive groups are pressuring Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify Democrats against Kavanaugh. A letter sent to Schumer on the second day of hearings says bluntly: “You are failing us.”
Democrats face a difficult climb trying to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation. If nearly all Republicans back Kavanaugh, as is expected, several Democrats facing tough re-election races — including Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly — may vote to confirm him.
But the groups say Democrats in states like West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Alabama have nothing to fear from voting against Kavanaugh. They say voters in those states “care deeply” about the issues before the court and “will reward a principled vote.”
Kavanaugh on Tuesday touted the importance of an independent judiciary as his confirmation hearings began with strident Democratic criticism that he would be Trump’s man on the high court.
On Wednesday, Kavanaugh can expect to spend most of the day in the hot seat, sparring with Democratic senators over high-profile issues.
Barring a surprise, Republicans appear on track to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, perhaps in time for the first day of the new term on Oct. 1.