Kavanaugh Protest

Protesters gather outside the Missoula office of Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines on Friday to urge him to vote against confirming Brett Kavanaugh as a United States Supreme Court justice. A day earlier, Daines expressed his support for Kavanaugh.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee wrangled over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday, about two dozen Missoulians briefly gathered outside the local office of Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines to voice their opposition.

The protest was one of several organized by Big Sky 55+ at Daines’ Montana offices, and part of a national surge in opposition to Kavanaugh. The Missoula participants found a locked door and no staff, and Daines had already staked out his position on the matter.

In a statement released Thursday, he called the sexual misconduct allegations an “orchestrated smear campaign intended to destroy Judge Kavanaugh at the eleventh hour,” and said that “I look forward to casting my vote for Judge Kavanaugh.”

Even so, one of the Missoula event’s organizers, University of Montana student Maggie Bornstein, saw value in the gathering.

“I think this is a good reminder for him that … this will impact a lot of people in Montana,” she said. Bornstein described herself as involved in and passionate about Planned Parenthood, health care, and unions — “a lot of things Brett Kavanaugh is not a friend to.”

She and others voiced concern about how Kavanaugh’s presence on the Court would affect women’s rights, health care, gun policy, the environment and other issues.

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In their view, recent weeks’ sexual misconduct allegations and Thursday’s tense hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee have raised the stakes further.

“Someone who comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee and cries and screams and weeps is not fit to be a Supreme Court Justice,” said Jean Larson. “For him to vote on Roe v. Wade? Scary!”

“I believe [Kavanaugh accuser and psychologist] Dr. Ford, and I think she’s credible, especially when I saw what a bully Kavanaugh was,” said Michael Jones. “I have no tolerance for men like that.”

Before the group dispersed, Jennifer Prinzing acknowledged the “exhausting” nature of repeated protests like these, but shared the anecdote of clergyman A.J. Muste, who stood vigil outside the White House for years during the Vietnam War, holding a candle. When asked if he expected to change the country, he replied, “I don’t do this to change the country, I do this so the country won’t change me.”

As the other guests nodded, she said, “The group here, I wish was larger today, but it's important that we all came and that we keep coming.”

Separately, on Friday Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced that he would vote against Kavanaugh. Tester spokesperson Marnee Banks said that a few people had dropped by his Missoula office to thank him for his decision, but there was no organized gathering.

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Higher education reporter for the Missoulian