Democrats began threatening to risk their positions in the U.S. Senate by releasing privileged emails, as the third day of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing devolved into fighting.
“Bring it,” Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said early Thursday morning, a sentiment quickly backed by his fellow Democratic legislators.
Booker told the committee he intends to release “committee confidential” documents allegedly concerning racial profiling to the press, thereby willingly violating a committee rule and risking expulsion from the Senate. Other Democratic senators soon joined in and threatened to do the same.
The documents were later published on Scribd:
Democrats on the committee have repeatedly asked to stall or adjourn the hearings in an effort to grab more time to review 42,000 pages of secret documents released just a few hours before the proceedings began Tuesday. Members of the party had mulled walking out of the hearing, if they showed up at all, according to a POLITICO report on Wednesday, but ultimately decided against it — at least until Thursday.
“There is no Senate rule that accounts for this process, period,” Booker said, as a protester shouted in the background. “I say to a chairman that I respect, that I believe has been fair and been good to me, I did willfully violate the chair’s rule on the committee confidential process.”
“This is the closest moment I’ll ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” Booker said. “I hope they will bring charges against us and I am ready to accept the full responsibility for what I have done”
A secret email obtained by the New York Times — part of the thousands of documents that a White House lawyer from the George W. Bush administration turned over ahead of the hearings — shows Kavanaugh challenging a draft opinion piece that stated
Roe v. Wade was “settled law of the land.” The landmark 1973 Supreme Court legalized abortion access across the country.
Kavanaugh asked to delete the line saying that Roe was settled law, according to the Times, writing: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
Now, Democratic senators want members of the media to have wider access to the confidential emails.
“I think we’re entitled to all records, and I think the public is entitled to all records,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California.
“It is unlike any process I’ve ever seen,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, decrying the lack of transparency regarding the public documents. “We’re talking about whether the American people have the right to know."
“We cannot hide these documents from the American people,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota.
Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly chimed in, saying, “You want to give up your emails, right now, make them public? I don’t think you do!”
Protesters have punctuated the proceedings this week, leading to dozens of arrests and sometimes drawn-out periods of questioning to make up for lost time. The first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings — usually reserved for opening statements — devolved into a demonstrations and shouting from the gallery, which resulted in 70 arrests by the day’s end.
Cover image: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks during the second day of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images.