Chanting “Kavanaugh has got to go” and “this is what democracy looks like,” approximately 30 students marched down Congress street in Portland this afternoon en route to the office of Senator Susan Collins. Bowdoin Climate Action organized the rally in response to Collins’ position as a key vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who students criticized for his position on women’s rights issues and his opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Two students, Eleanor Brakewood ’19 and Brianna Canning ’21, read speeches to Collins’ staff addressing their concerns about the confirmation.
“Throughout his time in Washington [Kavanaugh] has praised the Supreme Court justices that dissented the Roe v. Wade? decision, argued in support of bosses that wanted to overturn women’s rights to birth control, and voted to deny an immigrant minor from having an abortion,” Canning said in Collins’ office. “It is worrisome to many women, including myself, that a man working for the government might have the ability to take away our right to choose.”
Kavanaugh’s confirmation depends on the approval by a majority of senators—in this case, considered to be 50 because Vice President Mike Pence would serve as a tie breaking vote. Republicans hold 51 seats in the senate. As a Republican senator in a swing state with a generally pro-choice voting record, Collins has been the target of local and national activists. According to an Associated Press report, her office has received over 3,000 coat hangers in the mail. A crowdfunding page has also received over $1 million for her 2020 senate opponent, which will be donated only if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh.
Crowded in the senator’s eighth-floor office, the students sang songs about reproductive rights.
“We are happy to hear your voices and carry messages to Senator Collins,” a Collins staffer said. “This is the most effective way to get these messages to her.”
At the conclusion of the presentation, the senator’s staff asked protesters where they were from. About a fifth of the group were native Mainers, although several students noted that they were registered Maine voters despite being from other states.
Onlookers in Portland generally showed support by honking and chanting along with the marchers.
“[This is] wonderful. I am incredibly proud of their bravery and willingness to stand up for what they believe in,” said Liz Dunn, a Maine resident.
The Senate judiciary committee, which does not include Collins, is set to vote on Kavanaugh on Thursday. If the committee approves the nomination, it will go before the full committee in late September.