While the chaos and disruption from Democrats during Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing has sparked derision and mockery from Republicans and some media commentators, some on the party’s liberal wing think Democratic leadership is not doing enough.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., interrupted Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, within seconds of the hearing beginning on Tuesday, setting the scene for a chaotic few days that included a number of theatrical displays — including a regular stream of protesters being dragged from the public gallery.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, dared Republicans to have him expelled for releasing committee confidential documents — documents that it later turned out already been cleared for release — and called it his “Spartacus moment.”
But some liberal groups are complaining that other Democrats from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, on down haven’t been putting up enough of a fight.
“The Supreme Court is on the line, and you are failing us,” a letter from from 13 liberal groups, including the Women’s March, DailyKos, Friends of the Earth and Justice Democrats, to Schumer said.
The letter described Kavanaugh as “an extremist who will help institutionalize Trump’s hate for a generation.”
“Your job as Senate Democratic leader is to lead your caucus in complete opposition to Trump’s attempted Supreme Court takeover and to defend everyone threatened by a Trump Supreme Court,” the letter said. “But unbelievably, nearly two dozen Democrats have still not come out against Kavanaugh, and just last week, you helped Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast track 15 Trump judicial nominees. That is not the leadership we need.”
The letter does acknowledge that Schumer’s hands are tied to a large extent by the harsh realities of Senate math. Republicans need a simple majority and hold 51 Senate seats, meaning that Democrats are hoping that two Republicans — namely moderate Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine — break ranks.
But the letter indicates that the groups believe Schumer is not doing a good enough job whipping members to vote against Kavanaugh.
“If you hold your caucus together, you force them to have to make a real choice, with very real consequences for their constituents. If you fail, you let them off the hook,” the letter says.
Three Democrats in red states, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heiti Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, and all three are up for re-election in November. If they cast similar votes this month, then it won’t matter if some Republicans break away.
Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was also under fire in California, with her Democratic rival in November’s election, Kevin De Leon, accusing her of a “subpar” performance.
“You have a tale of very different approaches on the Judiciary Committee,” De Leon told The San Diego Union-Tribune. He also knocked Feinstein for criticizing the protestors at the confirmation, saying she should have supported them instead.
“The protesters at the #KavanaughConfirmation are patriots trying to protect the rights of every American threatened by this nominee,” he tweeted. “We need to support them and stand with them @SenFeinstein, not apologize for them. California deserves a senator who will #ResistNotAssist.”
Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon offered his support for Harris while swiping at other Dems, saying that Harris had “carried the Democrats” in the first few days of the hearing.
“Can Harris be promoted to Ranking Member?” the former Clinton aide tweeted.
On Friday, progressives indicated that Democrats hadn’t done enough again as three groups called for them to seek a perjury investigation over his testimony.
Politico reports that Demand Justice, MoveOn and NARAL Pro-Choice America claimed that a number of statements he made conflicted with testimony he made during the confirmation for his current court position. So far no such move has been made by Senate Democrats.