Updated 2:34 p.m. with a comment from Sen. Toomey’s office
U.S. Sen Pat Toomey has said his mind is made up on Brett Kavanaugh. He’d vote to confirm the embattled Supreme Court nominee.
But that didn’t stop dozens of protesters from gathering at lunchtime today outside Toomey’s Downtown Pittsburgh office in the Grant Building, where they urged him to reconsider with signs, loud speakers, a song — and a warning.
“… for Senator Toomey, who needs to be listening to his constituents, if you are unable to respect the rights and dignity of women, then you are unfit to serve at any level of government, and we will vote you out,” said Liz Klie of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.
Toomey, R-Pa., was reelected in 2016 to another six-year term. Protesters also vowed to apply their electoral energy to the 2018 midterms, just a month away.
“I know everyone here is gonna vote, but you need to get other people to vote,” said Tracy Baton of Women’s March Pittsburgh. “Not enough Democrats voted. That’s how we got here.”
Primarily, speakers and attendees echoed concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament and character following his testimony before a Senate panel last week and a subsequent stream of revelations involving the Trump nominee’s conduct as a prep school student and Yale undergrad — some of which contradicted his statements under oath. The FBI is investigating, with a Senate confirmation vote expected as early as this week.
“If the FBI discovers new information during its supplemental background check, Senator Toomey will certainly take it into account before voting,” Toomey’s office said in a statement to The Incline on Tuesday. “Based on the hearing testimony and everything else that has been presented about Judge Kavanaugh’s exemplary character and record, the Senator’s support for the Judge has not changed.”
Identical protests to Pittsburgh’s have happened outside the satellite offices of both Democratic and Republican senators nationwide in the last week. This includes the Juneau office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., the Phoenix office of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Az., the Portland office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., and the Charleston office of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV. All represent pivotal votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
And while Toomey has indicated no such movability on the issue, his offices in Allentown and Philadelphia have been repeatedly targeted by protesters looking to exert influence.
Today, Pittsburgh protest organizers also gathered letters from attendees to be submitted to Toomey’s office.
Some attendees were clear: They fear the precedent Kavanaugh’s confirmation would create and the message it would send to the world and perhaps most importantly to young women in America.
“We do not want a justice system that looks like Brett Kavanaugh,” Kipp Dawson said.
Laura McCarthy of Greenfield called Kavanaugh an “appalling person” who has “no business being on the Supreme Court.”
Richard St. John, also of Greenfield, said of last week’s testimony, “I listened to Ford, and I found her to be credible and speaking from the heart. When I listened to Kavanaugh, I heard a lot of perhaps justifiable anger but certainly a sense of entitlement and aggrieved privilege and that doesn’t speak well for his judicial temperament.”
This sentiment was echoed throughout the crowd.
“He clearly lacks proper temperament to serve on the Supreme Court and his partisan hostility is so intense, I don’t think he could be impartial and judge cases involving politics or political claims,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Allegheny, one of today’s speakers. (During his testimony, Kavanaugh called the allegations against him a Democratic smear campaign, one he ultimately linked to the Clintons.)
Now, the fate of the nomination rests with senators like Toomey.
“Your obligation is to all of the people gathered here, and your obligation is to the many women, the younger generation of women who are watching this and so far are really appalled and frightened that these are the folks entrusted with protection of our democracy,” Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said, addressing the senator.