Rule of Law

It Is a Crime to Disrupt Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing

We heard quite a bit about the rule of law today in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing from senators like Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal.  What we haven’t heard from them are calls for their supporters to stop disrupting the hearings.  Senator Orrin Hatch railed against the”insolence” of the disrupting protesters.

It turns out disrupting a Senate committee hearing is also a criminal offense.

United States Code Chapter 40, Section 5104 makes it a crime to “willfully and knowingly”

with the intent to disrupt the orderly conduct of official business, enter or remain in a room in any of the Capitol Buildings set aside or designated for the use of either House of Congress or a Member, committee, officer, or employee of Congress, or either House of Congress; or utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place in the Grounds or in any of the Capitol Buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress or either House of Congress, or the orderly conduct in that building of a hearing before, or any deliberations of, a committee of Congress or either House of Congress.
Chapter 40 , Section 5109(b) imposes up to six months in federal prison for doing so.  The attorney general has the power to enforce these criminal sanctions.
Despite laws seeming to squarely address Senate disruptions, civil rights groups praised the behavior.
“This is what cemocracy looks like” posted the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on the organization’s Facebook page.
All of this plays splendidly well on the unhinged left, where the rule of law is an optional aspiration.  But aren’t protests immune from the reach of criminal laws?  Shouldn’t we celebrate the disruptions?  Dissent is patriotic, the bumper sticker told me.
Alas we reach the great divide.  One side believes in the rule of law when it is convenient, and in by-any-means-necessary when it isn’t.  They believe in civility sometimes, unless incivility is required.  The people who repeatedly protested the Senate hearing  should be thankful that the side that still believes in civility has patience with them.  When they run out of it, it won’t be good.