Hoosiers Demand Senator Donnelly Block Trump’s SCOTUS pickPosted on: July 13, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
By Jeff Turner
More than forty activists and concerned Hoosiers affiliated with Indivisible Indianapolis assembled at Senator Joe Donnelly’s downtown Indianapolis office this Friday July 13th in an effort to make known their stance on the potential Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, who currently serves as a Circuit Court Judge, was named by Trump on July 9th to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was widely considered to be the court’s swing vote on certain key issues such as abortion and LGBT+ rights. Though the event originally started outside, due to the large crowd that had assembled, the staffers had the activists moved into the waiting area of the office and allowed them to speak in groups of ten to one of the Senator’s representatives (Donnelly was not in Indianapolis at the time).
“I want to show my concern about who’s been nominated for the Supreme Court, and say we don’t want him,” said Ronald Rodgers, an Indivisible Indianapolis member and activist who came to the event. When asked if he would support Donnelly in November should he vote to confirm Kavanaugh, he said: “I don’t know. That’s the issue, that’s my concern.” When asked if he felt Senator Donnelly should vote against Kavanaugh even if it would mean he would lose reelection, he said “Yes. You have to have a backbone sometimes about what is right and what is wrong.”
This statement was voiced by most of those present that afternoon. Donnelly, according to the Cook County Political Report, is one of, if not the, most vulnerable Democratic Senators in the country of those up for reelection in November, the race listed as a “Toss Up.” A large reason for this judging by this sampling of individuals would be that it seems Donnelly has some work to do in regards to appealing to his base.
“I would probably hold my nose and vote for him, no other way to vote against the Republican,” said Mike Consolino, another activist in attendance, in regards to whether he would support Donnelly if he voted to confirm Kavanaugh. When asked if he felt Donnelly should vote against Kavanaugh even if it meant him losing reelection, he said. “Yes. I wouldn’t mind seeing Donnelly go and make room for a progressive. And it would be nice to see Donnelly show some integrity for a change… We need a progressive senator, not a conservative Democrat.” When asked if a progressive Democrat could even be elected in a state like Indiana, he said “It would be difficult, but it could be done.”
The fact of the matter seems to be that Donnelly (along with other red state Democrats) has found himself in a very difficult situation, whether or not to vote to confirm Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court this fall right before the midterm elections to appeal to Republicans and conservative leaning independents, at the risk of alienating and infuriating their bases, a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” proposition.
“I would look at all of his body of work, but I hope that he (Donnelly) votes his conscience, which would be voting against Kavanaugh,” said Sue Bowron-White, another activist who came to Donnelly’s office for the event. “He needs to do the right thing… He needs to vote his conscience and do what is right for America. This is bigger than just Joe Donnelly, this is the future of America. Kavanaugh could be on the bench for thirty-five years.”
Also present were members of Indivisible Bloomington, who’d come up to Indianapolis to show their support. “We’re here to convey to Senator Donnelly that we’re opposed to it (Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination). There shouldn’t be a vote, especially after Merrick Garland,” said Peter Dorfman, of Indivisible Bloomington. “It’s inappropriate for a President who is under criminal investigation to be able to appoint a justice who wouldn’t support a criminal investigation (into possible Russian collusion during the 2016 Presidential Election). Kavanaugh would vote for protecting the President from criminal sanctions.” He went on to say: “Donnelly thinks that going along with the nomination will get him Republican support,” an approach he felt would backfire, since Mike Braun, Donnelly’s opponent in November “hasn’t destroyed himself as Mourdock did in 2012.”
Richard Mourdock faced off against Joe Donnelly in 2012, after defeating then-GOP incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the primaries that year, many feeling that Lugar would have gone on to defeat Donnelly in the general election.
There was visible resentment among the more than forty present in regards to Joe Donnelly’s moderate voting record. Nonetheless, everyone who came seemed willing to cast a ballot for the Senator in November, given the alternative.
“Indiana is not as red a state as people think,” said Joyce Kleinman, founder and president of Indivisible Indianapolis. “A lot of people here are independents, Democrats. We are not threatening him, we are supporting him. He has a huge base that will go out to help him get reelected.”
Senator Donnelly has not yet said whether or not he will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. The Indiana Senator however did join two other red state Democrats in voting to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year. He goes on to face challenger Mike Braun in November.