Less than an hour into the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Tuesday morning, U.S. Capitol Police had already arrested 22 protesters outside the proceedings, charging them with disorderly conduct.
By the end of the day, that number had swelled to 70, a group of defendants that includes the activist Linda Sarsour, the designer Bob Bland, and the actress Piper Perabo. At several points throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee’s opening remarks, shouting protestors could be heard trying to silence or distract the senators — when the senators themselves weren’t trying to talk over one another or halt the proceedings, at least. (A number of Democrats launched objections over a trove a documents released late the night before.)
“As the hearing is scheduled to proceed for several hours today, we will provide a final update regarding number of arrests at the end of the business day," Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman with the Capitol Police department, said in an email.
According to their count, 61 people were removed from the floor and arrested, while another nine were arrested while protesting on the second floor.
Many of the protesters, as seen on a live broadcast of the hearing, appeared to be women.
It’s expected to be the most contentious Supreme Court nominee hearing in decades, as the conservative Kavanaugh, Trump's second SCOTUS nominee since he took office, could flip the court to a conservative majority, potentially threatening the standing of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.