Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford are expected to testify Thursday in a tiny room before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the hearing is held in the small room as scheduled, there won’t be much room for the public — including protesters — or reporters to watch the proceedings. But that could change.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on tap for Thursday is set to be in Dirksen 226, a small room that can accommodate lawmakers, a few staffers and a witness, but not much beyond that. The highly anticipated meeting is sure to draw enormous media attention and throngs of protesters.
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The hearing’s setting could be strategic — or simple logistics. The small space in Dirksen, with limited seats for the public, could mean fewer eruptions from protesters like those that took over earlier hearings with Kavanaugh. There is also the possibility the location was part of the negotiations between Ford and the Judiciary Committee. Ford was concerned about her safety and being inundated by the press.
Previous confirmation hearings for the nominee were inundated with repeated interruptions by shouting demonstrators, often drowning out lawmakers on the panel. Hundreds were hauled out of hearings and arrested by Capitol Police over the course of three days in September. Dozens more have been arrested while demonstrating in Senate offices and office buildings in recent weeks.
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Moving the hearing to a larger space, including the large room in the Hart Senate Office Building where the previous Kavanaugh hearing was held, is still possible. Use of Hart 216 requires approval from the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Senate Judiciary staff did not respond to questions about the hearing location and any potential changes.
There are already a bevy of protests and demonstrations under way and planned for this week against Kavanaugh’s nomination and supporting the growing number of women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
The protests have focused on Republicans who have indicated they could serve as swing votes on the nomination including Maine’s Susan Collins and Arizona’s Jeff Flake. Dozens of protesters descended on their offices Monday morning, blocking hallways. Groups from Kavanaugh’s alma mater Yale Law School and the Womens’ March organization organized some of the actions Monday.