Sen. Cory Booker’s Spartacus Moment

Given the minority position of Democrats in the Senate, they are doing everything within their power to disrupt the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. But today, Sen. Cory Booker took it to the next level.

For some background, it’s helpful to know that on Tuesday night before the confirmation hearings began, the Bush administration released 42,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s time of service in the White House. Republicans decided to label many of them “committee confidential,” meaning that they would not be released publicly and Senators would not be able to question Kavanaugh about what he’d said or written.

During the hearing today, Sen. Booker engaged in an act of civil disobedience related to those documents.

“I come from a long line, as of all us do as Americans, of understanding of what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences, so I am, before your process is finished, I’m going to release the email about racial profiling,” Booker said. “And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.”

Some of Booker’s Democratic colleagues joined him in saying that they’d risk punishment as well.

“If there’s going to be some retribution against the senator of New Jersey, count me in,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said…“All of us are ready to face that rule of the bogus designation of committee confidential,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said.

While that was taking place, the Senate Minority Leader weighed in as well.

That led to Booker’s comments about a “Spartacus moment” and he challenged Republicans to “bring it.”

The fumbling Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley later released some of these documents himself, and he’s now ridiculously claiming that he’d planned to do so all along. But he could have easily ended all the drama this morning by saying so if that was true. Instead, both Grassley and Cornyn are on tape sparring with Booker as he threatened to release them, so it’s obvious they’re just looking for cover because they got called out on their games.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk about how and when Democrats should stand up to all of the shenanigans the Republicans pull to maintain their power and get what they want. While it isn’t a panacea that will work in every circumstance, Sen. Cory Booker just gave a master class in how that is done. He didn’t do it with fighting words or speeches or by putting someone else’s interests on the line. He put himself on the line and his Democratic colleagues took a stand with him. It was a moment of inspiration that I hope will spark more of this kind of thing in the future.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.