WASHINGTON ― Nearly 150 protesters crashed senators’ offices on Tuesday to confront them on their support for President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees who declined to say whether they thought Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided.
The protest, organized by progressive groups Demand Justice and Center for Popular Democracy, targeted four senators ― Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) ― who have voted to advance at least some of the nearly two dozen judicial nominees who, during their confirmation hearings, wouldn’t affirm the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision that led to the desegregation of public schools.
HuffPost tagged along with protesters as they flooded senators’ offices and essentially took over the front rooms as wide-eyed staffers looked like they wished they were invisible. The senators weren’t in their offices when the protesters arrived, though some aides tried, unsuccessfully, to engage as protesters launched into call-and-response speeches and chants like “We won’t back down on Brown!”
More than 10 protesters were arrested by Capitol Police for plopping down in front of senators’ offices and refusing to move. Dozens more were escorted out of the building.
They made a final pit stop in the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They delivered petitions with 110,000 signatures urging her to lead the fight against Trump’s next controversial judicial nominee, Steven Menashi, whose confirmation hearing is Wednesday morning.
The White House and Senate Republicans appear to have expedited a hearing for Menashi, a White House legal aide whom Trump has now tapped for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Progressive groups are trying to tank Menashi’s nomination because of his long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women and LGBTQ people.
In his past writings, he has compared race data collection in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler; denounced women’s marches as sexual assault; and opposed the ”radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade.” Menashi also spread the Islamophobic myth that Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in 1913 with bullets dipped in pig fat.
By late Tuesday, Katie O’Connor, senior counsel at Demand Justice, said she felt like the Senate protests were successful on two fronts: They sent a signal to Democrats that progressives are watching their votes on Trump’s judicial nominees, and they made it crystal clear to Feinstein that progressives do not want Menashi confirmed.
“Sen. Feinstein, be the leader on this and be the leader on opposing this guy who should be easily opposed,” O’Connor said.