Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is one of the last few Senate Democrats who hasn’t outwardly opposed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. His constituents are demanding he do so.
As of 5:12 PM Eastern Time Monday evening, there are 19 women — many of whom are survivors of sexual assault — occupying Sen. Manchin’s local office in Charleston, West Virginia. Joe Manchin is in the midst of a tough re-election battle in the 2018 midterms. Current polls show him in a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey. However, because Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in West Virginia by more than 300,000 votes, Manchin is likely more sensitive to pressure about Kavanaugh from constituents than from his party.
The livestream of the action shows women sharing their stories of being sexually assaulted, and calling on their senator to oppose Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of the multiple sexual misconduct and assault accusations against him that are currently being investigated by the FBI.
Charleston-area activist, mother, and sexual assault survivor Sarah Starks told Grit Post that even before those accusations came to light, Joe Manchin should have opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination based on his judicial philosophy.
“Many of us are survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse. All of us, if we’re not survivors, we know someone and we love someone who is,” Starks, who is one of the people occupying Sen. Manchin’s office, said in a phone interview. “Senator Manchin needs to vote no on Brett Kavanaugh and we will not be leaving his office until we get that guarantee or until we are removed.”
As of this writing, Sens. Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) are the last two Democrats who haven’t explicitly stated whether or not they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are also still on the fence. Starks said she and her fellow activists — all of whom are Manchin’s constituents — are committed to risking arrest if they don’t get a commitment from their senator to vote no.
“We’re going to stay until we get an office or until we get removed,” Starks told Grit Post. “If we don’t get a clear and direct no, then Senator Manchin does not stand with women.”
“I think it’s absurd that we’ve come to this,” she added. “We should’ve already gotten answer, and it should’ve been no.”
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.