Kavanaugh protesters

REICHARD: OK, on to the news of the day. Yesterday you heard Cal Thomas refer to this week’s Supreme Court hearing as political theater.

That is to say, it’s planned, rehearsed, staged. Everyone knows what’s going to happen.

One of the central themes of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing has been the protests. Members of the audience have stood up and shouted down senators and Judge Kavanaugh as they tried to speak. Capitol Police arrested 70 of these disruptors on the first day alone.

The media often portray these protests as spontaneous eruptions of frustration by well-meaning members of the public. But there’s more to the story. And as always, you just need to follow the money to find out.

Here now to discuss this with me is an eyewitness on Capitol Hill. Peggy Nienaber is vice president of operations for Faith & Action. And Peggy, for those unfamiliar with Faith & Action, can you talk about what you do and why you were on the Hill for the Kavanaugh hearing this week?

NIENABER: Yes. Faith & Action in the Nation’s Capital is a ministry right on Capitol Hill, directly behind the Supreme Court, and We minister to elected officials, but one of our mission field places that we minister to is the Supreme Court. So, we follow a Supreme Court justice from the time that he’s nominated all the way through the confirmation hearings, all the way into the Supreme Court where a prayer team prays for the family, the nomination. So I head up prayer teams and such and then I report back to many different pastors across the United States.

REICHARD: So you were there during the confirmation hearing this week. What did you observe while you were standing in line?

NIENABER: It’s quite a busy time. Now, normally you can get some reserved seats, but this is the first time that you have to stand in line. And almost three hours every time you waited for a seat to get into the court. Now, I’ve observed a lot, but this year I got to see a little bit more. I saw people signing civil disobedience forms, coming down the line putting magic markers on their hands with different slogans. They served breakfast, they served lunch. Now, I’ve served breakfast and lunch to my pastors, but I didn’t go down the line giving a form to be signed and $50 in the same thing at the same time.

REICHARD: So the pay was $50 for each protest?

NIENABER: If you protested they handed the $50 right to them. When they signed the form, they handed the $50 to them. I witnessed those people actually plotting how they’re going to stand up and scream, who’s going to be first, texting each other. I heard the whole conversation. In fact, two of the women turned to me and wanted to know if I would videotape them. She goes, “Well, we stand up and scream and shout, and we’re going to get arrested. What do you do in the hearing room?” And I said, “I pray.” She goes, “You pray?” I said, “That’s what I do. I’m called from God to pray and that’s what our ministry does and we silently pray and we don’t look to get arrested.”

REICHARD: And what was the reaction to that?

NIENABER: They walked away.

REICHARD: Okay, so Peggy, as you were cycling through the room and back into line again, were the protestors doing the same thing?

NIENABER: Yes, they were. When I got into the hearing room, I had heard the plots all the way upstairs. And one by one they stood up and screamed and that puts Capitol Hill police trying to get them out of the room and chairs being flipped over. The woman that actually signed that form, she was sitting two people down, stood up, and then the woman right next to me stood up and then the handicapped lady next to me, they kept texting her, “Now, now!” The only reason I saw it on her cell phone is because it was so large. “Yell now! Yell now!” She was handicapped, so she was in a wheelchair and she started screaming and the more she started screaming, they couldn’t get the wheelchair out because it was locked, she had locked the wheelchair, and the lady on the right side of me kept telling her, prompting her, “Yell louder. Yell more. Continue to yell.” So they just kept prompting this poor, young girl in the wheelchair until she was hauled out. Six people within a less than 15-minute time stood up and screamed and yelled and out they went. Now, what will happen is they’re handcuffed, they’re put in a paddywagon that’s waiting outside, they go down to the police station, takes about a four-hour deal. It’s a civil disobedient charge to them, and if they get out in time, they circle themselves back. And three of the ladies standing in that line told me they were arrested this morning and came back.

REICHARD: In all the time that you’ve been doing your work with Faith & Action, have you ever seen anything like this?

NIENABER: No, not at all.

REICHARD: Peggy Nienaber with Faith & Action in Washington, D.C., eyewitness account there. Thank you so much.

NIENABER: You are welcome.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) A protester disrupts the confirmation hearing of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. 

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