What a disgusting show that was.
The Senate on Tuesday opened the high-profile confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. It didn’t take 10 seconds for the whole thing to melt down into chaos.
As Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, moved to call the hearings to order, hecklers began shouting. And as soon as Grassley spoke, Sen. Kamala Harris, California Democrat, interrupted him, calling for a delay to the hearings because, she said, the committee had just received a batch of 42,000 documents relating to the nominee’s work with past administrations.
“We cannot possibly move forward. We have not had an opportunity to have a meaningful hearing,” she said.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, another Democrat who, like Harris, is expected to run for president in 2020, criticized Grassley’s “sense of decency and integrity” (for the record, Mr. Booker declared that he would oppose the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh — before the nominee spoke a single word).
As Grassley sought to move on, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, interrupted, calling the hearing a “charade” and “a mockery of our norms.”
Doesn’t sound that bad? It was. Here’s a transcript of the first few minutes of the hearing for a Supreme Court nominee, taking place in what has been called the greatest deliberative body in the world.
GRASSLEY: “Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— Brett Kavanaugh —”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago —“
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, regular order.”
HARRIS: “— 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze."
GRASSLEY: “You are out of order. I will proceed.”
HARRIS: “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing with Congress nominee — "
GRASSLEY: “I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife Ashley, their two daughters —
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, Senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 42,000 documents that we haven't been able to review —"
GRASSLEY: “— And everyone else joining us today."
UNKNOWN: " and we believe this hearing should be postponed —"
GRASSLEY: “I know this is an exciting day for all of you here and you’re rightly proud —"
UNKNOWN: "Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn."
GRASSLEY: “— From Judge Kavanaugh —"
UNKNOWN: "Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise —" [Audience cheers]
BLUMENTHAL: "Mr. Chairman, we have been denied the real access to the documents we need — which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms and, Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing."
AUDIENCE MEMBER: "This is a mockery. This is a travesty of justice. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh, adjourn the hearing."
BLUMENTHAL: "Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll call vote on my motion to adjourn."
BLUMENTHAL: "Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. I ask for a roll call vote."
GRASSLEY: “We are not in executive session. We will continue as planned."
The hearing then broke down into a melee that lasted more than 75 minutes — there were 63 interruptions in the first hour. After Grassley finally regained control, the hearing was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers who, for some reason, were not at first escorted from the room.
But it gets much, much worse. Judge Kavanaugh’s young daughters, Margaret, 13, and Elizabeth, 10, had to be escorted from the room as chaos broke out.
The shameful lack of decorum in the esteemed body was encouraged by Democrats. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said the protesters were right to yell and scream.
“What we heard was the noise of democracy. This is what happens in a free country when people can stand up and speak and not be jailed, imprisoned, tortured or killed because of it,” he said.
But that’s exactly what Durbin and other Democrats planned. During the hearing, Durbin admitted that he and other Democrats agreed in a conference call — led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer — on how to protest and disrupt the hearings as best they could.
That is what the Senate has become — a meaningless body in which civil debate is now dead. And every American ought to be embarrassed by that.