Four Protesters Arrested During Sotomayor Hearing

Posted July 13, 2009 at 10:40am

Updated 7:30 p.m.Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings began as many historic happenings do in Congress — with protests and arrests.Capitol Police had arrested four protesters by Monday afternoon. Two anti-abortion activists, Robert M. James and Andrew R. Beacham disrupted the hearing with yells of “Abortion is murder!—James, 48, was arrested shortly before 11 a.m. after he interrupted Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) opening statement. Beacham, 27, yelled similar anti-abortion sentiments at about 1 p.m. and was promptly escorted out of the room and arrested.Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Capitol Police later arrested two more protesters at the hearing, 68-year-old Francis Mahoney of Florida and 61-year-old Norma McCorvey of Texas.McCorvey was the “Jane Roe“ in the Supreme Court’s seminal 1973 “Roe v. Wade“ decision legalizing abortion. She has since become a leading abortion opponent. All four people arrested were charged with unlawful conduct – disruption of Congress.Overall, however, the proceedings Monday went smoothly in comparison with other high-profile hearings. A few dozen people stood patiently outside in a line near C and First streets Southeast, hoping for a ticket to the proceedings. And officers guarding Room 216 in the Hart Senate Office Building said the crowds were well-behaved so far.But some anti-abortionists plan to keep up a steady stream of interruptions. Randall Terry, an anti-abortion activist who founded Operation Rescue, said he was encouraging activists to speak out during the hearing.“The goal is to create tension that focuses on child killings,— he said while standing outside the Senate building. “I want pro-life U.S. Senators to filibuster Sotomayor.—Terry was joined on the street by another anti-abortionist, who was considering disrupting Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing Tuesday. But it’s unclear how many activists are in Terry’s group. Operation Rescue is no longer affiliated with him, and the group’s president, Troy Newman, said James and Beacham were also not part of the group.After James’ outburst Monday morning, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) made it clear that anyone who interrupted the hearing would be escorted out.“There will be no outbursts allowed in the committee either for or against the nominee,— he said, later adding: “This is a hearing of the United States Senate. We will have order, we will have decorum.—