After a weeks-long drama that gripped the nation and helped worsen partisan divisions ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm vote, the Senate is finally preparing to hold a confirmation vote for Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Undeterred by the GOP's apparent success in securing the 51 votes it needs to place Kavanaugh on the nation's highest court, protesters, including the paid activists who have spent the week haranguing Republican lawmakers in an effort to browbeat them into changing their votes, are once again swarming Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court, forcing local police to prepare for what will likely be hundreds of arrests.
Indeed, after Capitol police came with their zipties ready...
...arrests had already begun as of early Saturday afternoon.
Anti-Kavanaugh protesters are now being arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after breaching barriers. pic.twitter.com/hTLqBGLPyt— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) October 6, 2018
Protesters that gathered on the east lawn of the Capitol have already broken through one barricade to occupy the east steps. These protesters were swiftly arrested by police. According to the Hill, protesters hoisted a rainbow of different colored signs and chanted "we don't want no Kavanaugh" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Kavanaugh has got to go!"
Police fenced off the plaza in front of the Capitol building to stop protesters from blocking senators arriving at the building to vote. A constant stream of people were spotted walking from Union Station to join the protest, including - according to the Hill - a woman dressed as Wonder Woman.
All protesters remaining on the steps of the Capitol are getting arrested - police are restraining their arms with zip ties. Crowd cheers & chants “we love you, we see you” as protesters are led off steps. Looks like they’re going into custody peacefully. https://t.co/4FegCen52V pic.twitter.com/ei5d3nWamP— Wesleigh Ogle KATU (@WesleighOgle) October 6, 2018
Meanwhile, it was quiet inside the building as Senators prepared to vote...
The scene outside the Capitol right now: a swelling crowd of chanting protesters.— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 6, 2018
“No! No! No!”
Inside, in the marble halls, it’s quiet hours ahead of the vote. A few senators strolling around, their aides peering out the windows, stone-faced, as the cries grow louder. pic.twitter.com/joDBz3TFPS
...And majority whip John Cornyn said on the Senate floor on Friday that the Senate "will be not be bullied" by "paid protesters" who many including the president have accused of being in the pocket of billionaire investor George Soros.
Indeed, several of the most high profile confrontations of senators - including the two "hero" survivors who confronted Jeff Flake after Kavanaugh's testimony (something that is widely believed to have influenced his decision to call for a delay in the vote so the FBI could investigate further) have been staged by activists in the employ of a Soros-funded nonprofit.
"Our vote today was important not only because it will allow us to move forward and conclude this process. It was important because it showed that the U.S. Senate will not be intimidated."
"We will not be bullied by the screams of paid protesters and name-calling by the mob."
While protesters denouncing Kavanaugh and supporting sexual assault victims constituted the majority, small groups had gathered in support of the nominee (at grave risk of bodily harm and harassment), according to ABC.
President Trump chimed in on Twitter to praise this small group, saying it was a "beautiful thing to see - and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs."
Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capitol Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see - and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2018
The mayhem on the Capitol spread as the vote - which is expected between 3 pm and 5 pm - neared.
NEW: Anti-Kavanaugh protesters have broken through barriers at the US Capitol and are now on the east steps --> pic.twitter.com/lGRgwCyRss— ZioNLight (@ZioNLight1) October 6, 2018
Speaking with the Hill, Amanda Wise, a protester from Washington, DC, said she was "discouraged, but not surprised" that on-the-fence Republican moderates ultimately sided with Kavanaugh.
"I am a Yale [University] grad, I'm also a Yale Law grad, I also went to high school at the National Cathedral in the '80s and this is all just so frustratingly, terrifyingly familiar," she said. "And I just feel so impotent and outraged."
Protesters at the Supreme Court also broke through barricades to take to the steps.
Law student protesters were out in force.
Throughout Washington, scenes of protesters triggered by Kavanaugh's nomination flooded social media.
Protesters gathered in other cities as well, including outside Sen. Susan Collins' office in Portland, Maine, to express their outrage over her decision to throw her support behind Kavanaugh. On Facebook, protests organized demonstrations on Saturday in at least 10 other cities including New York, Cleveland, New Orleans and Tucson, Arizona.
But the real mayhem will likely be reserved until after the vote, when scenes of sporadic violence will likely spread, leaving many injured and prompting even more arrests.