In it, but not of it. TPM DC
It was a different scene than the one that greeted President Obama's last nominee to the Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Those hearings were marked by small bands of demonstrators arguing outside the hearing room for and against her appointment, and several outbursts by anti-abortion protesters inside the hearing room as well.
This time, however, Terry conceded he's the only show in town. He believes it's because the more mainstream anti-abortion groups are afraid to take on the GOP and call for a filibuster of Kagan that, he said, most conservatives agree won't be coming.
"The lack of heroism from so-called pro-life Senators has put pro-lifers in the bizarre position of muting themselves," Terry told TPMDC today. "Republican politicians should be raising holy hell, but they're not."
Terry said that most anti-abortion groups are afraid of alienating supportive politicians by essentially attacking Republicans for letting Kagan's nomination move forward. That will inevitably lead to a Kagan's being seated on the Supreme Court, Terry said, and that will set back the anti-abortion movement.
"They're afraid, they're lazy and they don't want to look like radicals," Terry said of the other anti-abortion advocates who didn't join him in protesting Kagan today (Terry did say there were a couple of protesters from a group called "Students For Life," but he admitted it was a weak showing considering a Supreme Court nomination hearing is probably the best chance abortion opponents have to get national press.) "I was very disappointed [this morning,]" he added.
Terry promised to be out in front of the hearings every morning with his trademark brand of theatrical (some might say gross-out) protests.
National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill didn't have any demonstrators out in front of the hearings either. Part of that, she said, was due to the fact that the hearings fall just as NOW's DC staff is headed to the national conference in Boston. (Incidentally, the same thing happened when Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the Court in 2006.) O'Neill said her group is "monitoring the hearings very closely" but suggested that counter-demonstrations like the ones NOW and other groups mounted during the Sotomayor hearings aren't necessary this time around.
"There was an attempt to portray Justice Sotomayor as extremely, extremely liberal," O'Neill told me. "But that mode of attack failed so completely with Sotomayor that when they kind of tried to try it again with Kagan, people said 'we're not paying attention.'"