Security Crackdowns And Huge Crowds For Kavanaugh Showdown

The fraught hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, had a line hundreds of people long hours before it kicked off — for an overflow room far from the hearing itself.

Almost no one in the public, and very few reporters, were even allowed on the floor of the Senate building on which the hearing was taking place, a highly unusual level of security for a congressional hearing. Even explosive ones like James Comey’s did not have similar precautions.

The Senate Banking Committee’s normal hearing room, three floors up in the Dirksen Senate building, had 80 seats available. The rest of the public, a female-heavy crowd dotted with women wearing “I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford” pins and stickers, was out of luck after waiting in a line that wrapped around the building.

Bill Castellani said he’d arrived at 5:30 a.m. hoping to get into the actual hearing room, “to see history made,” and instead was directed to line up at the overflow room. There were already 40 people queued up.

A few women wore “I’m a survivor — and I vote” t-shirts. One of the few men in the crowd, in a priest’s outfit, had duct tape over his mouth with “believe women” written on it.

Beth Corbin, one of the first in line, moved to D.C. in the early 1990s to work for the National Organization for Women — and one of her first projects was the Anita Hill hearings.

“It’s deja vu,” she said, before knocking longtime Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and now-Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “I can’t believe that after 27 years Hatch and Grassley have learned nothing.”

Corbin posed for a photo sitting on her scooter covered with political stickers, and a hat with the slogan “the relentless feminist.”

But she said she almost brought another hat that would sum up the crowds that had shown up for the historic hearing:  “When we’re screwed, we multiply.”

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