Courtesy of/Sunrise Movement DC
Protesters gathered outside of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham's house early Monday morning to urge him not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy until after the presidential inauguration in January.
Courtesy of/Sunrise Movement DC
Dozens of people demonstrated outside the D.C. home of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) early Monday morning over Republican efforts to fill the Supreme Court vacancy following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They urged Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not to hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court justice nominee until after the presidential inauguration in January.
"No confirmation before inauguration," activists chanted as they marched from Graham's home to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ginsburg died Friday at 87 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. In 2016, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia caused a sudden vacancy on the court, Graham recommended against filling the post during the final year of President Barack Obama's second term.
"I want you to use my words against me," said Graham, then a member of the committee. "If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, 'Lindsey Graham said: Let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.'"
Graham and 10 other Republicans on the committee sent a letter in 2016 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying they did not plan to hold a hearing or vote on Obama's nominee. Merrick Garland, Obama's pick to fill the vacancy, was not given a confirmation hearing and his nomination expired in early 2017.
In an interview on Full Court Press With Greta Van Susteren in May, Graham suggested his earlier comments may not apply in 2020.
"Merrick Garland was a different situation," Graham said. "You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you've got them both would be different. I don't want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020."
A representative from Graham's office did not provide comment, instead referring DCist to the senator's recent statements on social media. On Sunday, Graham tweeted that he "could not agree more" with a statement from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), that reads, "No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President's Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential year."
"Democrats chose to set in motion rules changes to stack the court at the Circuit level and they chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh's life to keep the Supreme Court seat open," Graham tweeted, referring to Senate Democrats' use of the so-called "nuclear option" to alter filibuster rules in 2013 and the contentious hearings over the nomination of Kavanaugh in 2018. "You reap what you sow."
Demonstrators gathered at 6 a.m. outside Graham's home, giving speeches and amplifying a recording of Graham's words from 2016. After Capitol Police asked organizers to leave the premises, demonstrators headed toward the Supreme Court, says Sunrise Movement DC organizer Aura Angélica.
"[Graham] is our first but not the only person who we will be giving house visits and office visits to, given that he has so much power in pushing this forward," says Angélica, whose organization orchestrated the demonstration alongside Shut Down DC. "We're not for this double standard."
In the past two months, Sunrise Movement DC has participated in demonstrations outside the homes of McConnell and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), as well as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The organization plans to engage in further actions this fall, focusing on senators who may be more "moveable" as far as delaying confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, Angélica says.
"We're not here just for show, we're not here just to push on things that are not going to be pushable," Angélica says. "We really do want to see this come to fruition. We don't want to just antagonize everyone; we want to actually make sure that there is no Supreme Court justice appointed and confirmed before the next presidential inauguration."
On Monday, President Donald Trump said he will announce a nominee by the end of this week. McConnell pledged Friday to bring Trump's nominee for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor. A handful of Republican senators may be persuaded to opt against that nominee, based on factors such as their reelection prospects, reports Politico.
In a press release with Shut Down DC, the groups say this morning's demonstration is one of "several early morning actions to serve as a literal and figurative wake up call" to elected officials who have the ability to impact the new Supreme Court vacancy.
Sunrise Movement DC, the local hub of the national activist group, is focused on a host of issues, from eviction protections to climate change to inequities for Black D.C. residents.
"[We're] really just trying to rise up to all of these," Angélica says.