- The Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing
- Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the Separation of Powers
- An FBI Investigation of Sexual Assault Accusations Against Brett Kavanaugh?
- Truth, Impartiality, Independence Now Dispensable for Supreme Court and FBI
- A Screeching Mob Holding Illegal Demonstrations? Or Kavanaugh Protesters?
Trump and his followers portray Kavanaugh protesters as a screeching mob, suggest that protests, demonstrations should be illegal.
(October 9, 2018) During the confirmation hearing, the Kavanaugh protesters in the room were rather calm — they took turns voicing their dissent, spreading it out, each person shouting a short slogan and then allowing themselves to be removed. The Kavanaugh demonstrations in the halls and outside the Capitol were louder and more constant. They yelled slogans, like people do at protests; to call them a screeching mob is a ridiculous misrepresentation.
The First Amendment to the Constitution gives people the right “to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” According to the ACLU, this means you can join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly” in public spaces. Sometimes permits are required for demonstrations, for instance if rallies or other events affect traffic, use sound-amplifying devices or if protests are planned in certain restricted parks or plazas. When you demonstrate in Capitol hallways or offices you may be asked to leave, and if you refuse, you can get arrested for unlawful entry or disturbing proceedings, depending on who’s hallway or office you’re in. Politicians who sympathize with your cause will naturally be more tolerant than the politicians whose policies you are protesting. You are also not allowed to protest on the steps of the Supreme Court. In fact, you’re not even allowed to wear a political button on the steps of the Supreme Court.
During the four days of Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and four days of protests, from September 4 to 7, the U.S. Capitol Police arrested 227 people. The Kavanaugh demonstrations grew this past Friday and Saturday, when the Senate voted, and again at the Supreme Court, during his swearing-in ceremony. According to The Washington Post, 169 Kavanaugh protesters were arrested on Saturday. Most were processed and released, but four to seven people, who were arrested because they refused to leave the steps of the Supreme Court after police closed off the area, had not been released on Sunday. The arrests were all for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” or for protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court. Notably, nobody was arrested or charged with committing any kind of violence.
Yes, Kavanaugh protesters were arrested. Nevertheless, protests on the steps of the Supreme Court and in the halls of the Capitol are common. In general, demonstrations have always been considered part and parcel of being a democracy. Several senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, from both sides of the aisle, confirmed this democratic aspect of American government in comments during the hearing.
However, Trump and his supporters at Fox News and other right-wing media are portraying the Kavanaugh protesters as something other than people voicing their dissent in a democracy. On September 5, the second day of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, Trump, in an interview with conservative website The Daily Caller, said the following about the protests:
I’m amazed that people allow the interruption to continue. You know, there are some people that just keep screaming at the same people. In the old days we used to throw them out. Today I guess they just keep screaming. I thought Senator Hatch was good because he was very indignant at the interruptions by a woman that was up there that just kept going on and on. I don’t know why they don’t, why they don’t take care of a situation like that, because it’s terrible. I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters; you don’t even know which side the protesters were on. But to allow someone to stand up and scream from the top of their lungs and nobody does anything about it is frankly — I think it’s an embarrassment.
So he suggested he thinks demonstrations should be illegal. Yesterday, in an interview with NPR’s David Greene, ex-White House adviser Marc Lotter referred to the Kavanaugh protesters as radical activists, people who were shrieking during the confirmation hearing, screaming, “literally trying to claw the door open of the Supreme Court”, screaming expletives in police officers’ faces. He said we can choose “between the continuing the progress we have seen or turning the country over to these radicals who are protesting, who are screaming…” Etc.
A Fox News radio talk show host tweeted yesterday about the Kavanaugh demonstrations that the protesters were screaming animals. Mitch McConnell called them a mob rampaging through the halls of the Capitol. Others suggested they were a robotic mob, even. Brrr! Oh, and then another article did my job for me, I see now, and much better: here are more quotes about the dangerous, radical, liberal, robotic, clawing and screeching mob. And of course they were paid, too — the old conspiracy theory go-to.
Trump started dehumanizing demonstrators in December 2015: “They aren’t people, remember that.” His son Eric took a broader brush and claimed last year that Democrats aren’t people. Now protesters are a screeching mob and the democrats are screaming radicals. Trump and his team’s strategy is to draw a big red line around ‘the other‘ — everyone who isn’t a white, conservative, Christian authoritarian — and then demonize them, over and over again, until folks start believing those others are, indeed, the Devil incarnate.
The pseudo-documentary The Trump Prophecy is out. I haven’t seen it yet, but this is the premise, as I understand it: someone dreamed that God wanted Trump to be president, so when Trump won the election, it was clearly God’s will, and therefore everyone must now bow to Trump’s authority, because it’s the will of God. And the movie apparently also wants to bring home the message that women’s purpose on Earth is to be assistants to men, to aid them in whatever they want. So this movie, that no doubt all Trump’s followers will go see, is out at the same time that the Republicans on Capitol Hill are telling moderates who are threatening to leave the party that they have the choice between the order and progress and goodness provided by (God and) Trump, versus the crazed, raging hordes of Democrats. The shrieking, clawing, screeching mob of female Democrats!
The horror! The horror!
- Bahrampour, Tara . Most of the protesters arrested during Kavanaugh confirmation have been released. The Wasshington Post, October 8, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/most-of-the-protesters-arrested-during-kavanaugh-confirmation-have-been-released/2018/10/07/da7c76f0-ca46-11e8-a360-85875bac0b1f_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e594cea0b2f9.
- Backer-Gray, Barbara. America Is the Greatest Country in the World! (Fascism in America) The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, (updated) July 11, 2018. https://thebignono.com/america-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-world/.
- Chokshi, Niraj. Trump Derides Kavanaugh Protesters and Claims They Were Paid. (Politics) The New York Times, October 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/us/politics/trump-kavanaugh-protesters-paid.html.
- Coglianese, Vince and Saagar Enjeti. Full Transcript of Trump’s Oval Office Interview with The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller, September 5, 2018. https://dailycaller.com/2018/09/05/full-transcript-trump-daily-caller-interview/.
- Estepa, Jessica. Eric Trump on Democrats: ‘They’re not even people’. (On Politics) USA TODAY, June 7, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/06/07/eric-trump-democrats-theyre-not-even-people/102588850/.
- Greene, David. GOP’s Kavanaugh Victory Is A Midterm Motivator, Lotter Says. (Morning Edition) NPR, October 8, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/10/08/655546502/gops-kavanaugh-victory-is-a-midterm-motivator-lotter-says.
- Know Your Rights at Demonstrations and Protests. ACLU District of Columbia. https://www.acludc.org/en/know-your-rights/
- Olmstead, Molly. Trump Again Accuses Anti-Kavanaugh Protesters of Being Paid “Screamers” (News and Politics) Slate, October 9, 2018. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/paid-protesters-liberal-mob-kavanaugh-screamers.html.
- Pergram, Chad. Trump administration plows through Kavanaugh chaos. (Capitol Attitude) Fox News, October 9, 2018. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-administration-plows-through-kavanaugh-chaos.
- Wemple, Erik. Fox News Radio host: Anti-Kavanaugh protesters are ‘screaming animals’. (Opinion) The Washington Post, October 8, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2018/10/08/fox-news-radio-host-anti-kavanaugh-protesters-are-screaming-animals/?utm_term=.229feff4ffcd.