“Bring it,” said Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey.
Though the procedural weapons available to them have been limited by the Republican action on the Supreme Court filibuster last year after Democrats gutted the filibuster on other nominees in 2013, Democrats have been under fire from the left for not doing enough to slow President Trump’s parade of conservative judicial nominees.
At least year’s hearings for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s initial nominee for the Supreme Court, Democrats were seen as offering rather tepid opposition except for Senator Al Franken, the Democrat of Minnesota who later resigned after accusations of sexual harassment. Since then, Democrats have been criticized for allowing some Federal District Court judges to be confirmed too easily without requiring Republicans to eat up time by forcing roll call votes.
But given the importance of this Supreme Court fight in confirming a successor to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the swing vote in many decisions — as well as the investigations swirling around the president — Democrats were ready to set aside the usual confirmation hearing niceties. They mapped a plan that designated Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, to interrupt the Judiciary Committee hearing as soon as it was opened Tuesday morning by Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Republican of Iowa who oversees the panel, and Democrats went from there.
“These hearings were the rockiest for a Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas,” said Brian Fallon, the head of Demand Justice, a new advocacy group formed in part to encourage Democrats to be more aggressive on judges. “Democrats had sort of sleepwalked their way into this week, but then younger members like Booker and Harris came ready for battle and their intensity became contagious.”
In recognition of the new combativeness, the group delivered Everlast boxing gloves to Senators Harris and Booker as well as Senator Mazie Hirono, the Democrat of Hawaii who tore into Judge Kavanaugh for writings that she said disparaged Native Hawaiian people.
Not all the progressive groups were as pleased. A coalition led by the organization Credo wrote to Mr. Schumer, criticizing him for not securing unanimous Democratic opposition to Judge Kavanaugh. It is possible that at least a few Democrats from conservative states may support Judge Kavanaugh, but other previously undeclared Democrats on Friday began announcing they would oppose the nomination.