At 6 a.m. Monday morning, protesters gathered outside the Southeast home of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and used his words in a fight to delay the vote on a new Supreme Court Justice until after a new president takes office.
A seat is now empty after the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, Sept. 18 after a battle with cancer. Ginsburg was generally viewed as the leader of the liberal wing of the court. President Donald Trump (R) could legally fill the seat. If he does so, he is expected to choose a more conservative justice, potentially altering the tenor of the court.
Over 100 DC residents came out before daybreak to gather around the outside of Graham’s home. Between speeches, chants, blow horns and home-made drums, Graham’s voice was played over a loudspeaker.
“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said in a 2016 Senate speech, made during the period that President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.”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.'”
Around 7 a.m., DC police issued two warnings claiming the protest was violating the Residential Tranquility Act, and threatened arrest to both protesters and press on the block.
“In the spirit of RBG, we will not allow a double standard in how our Congress deals with late-term Supreme Court appointments,” said Aura Angelica, an organizer with Sunrise DC. “Senator Graham told us he wouldn’t allow a Supreme Court nominee during an election year– he told us to use his words against him if a seat opened up this late in the game– we’re here today, doing just that.”
The DC chapter of the Sunrise Movement is collaborating with the organization Shut Down DC to carry out one of several early morning actions to serve as a literal and figurative wake up call to politicians who hold decision-making power regarding the empty seat in the Supreme Court. A conservative court could tip a contested election, such as the role the Supreme Court played in 2000.
This would be the third seat filled by the Trump administration. “The right thing to do is to wait until after the election to fill the seat,” said Wren Patton, a DC resident and also an organizer with Sunrise Movement DC. “We can’t let the GOP steal another seat on the Supreme Court.”
Sunrise is a youth movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. The DC Hub is a local chapter of hundreds of youth committed to action in the District. The Sunrise Movement has chapters in cities all over the US, and is best known for helping to popularize the Green New Deal.
Shut Down DC is an alliance of people and organizations committed to an array of social justice issues, coming together to highlight the overlapping causes of the climate crisis in the United States. Across the issues of climate, race, immigration, inequality, and labor and against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, activists demand a just, healthy, and sustainable world.