Indeed, in the coming weeks, the marbled halls of the Senate are likely to be quiet, closed off to all but a small handful of lawmakers, staff, and reporters. The public gallery of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing room, where anyone who waits in line can come and observe the proceedings, will likely be empty when the nominee takes the witness stand. The office buildings usually thronged with staffers are now deserted, thanks to remote work policies.
Some of the key factors behind the atmosphere of intense resistance to Kavanaugh will be absent this time around—and those involved with the previous fights know it. “We were creating an environment where the senators basically had to walk by people whose lives were directly at stakes,” said Archila, who is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal group organizing to fight Trump’s nominee. “I don’t know that we will be able to do that inside the halls of Congress.”
That feeling is shared among those scrambling to organize the fight against the GOP’s accelerating effort to confirm a new justice. The sentiment is also shared by some in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, where there’s a sense that an intense public protest campaign will be crucial to their resistance efforts. “It just won’t be the same,” one Senate Democratic aide told The Daily Beast. “It clearly had an impact with Kavanaugh, cornering senators, applying pressure in person—all of it was compelling stuff, especially in the press. It clearly made some difference.”