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Protesters arrested in D.C. on first day of Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Protesters opposed to the confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, rally at the Supreme Court in Washington Monday.Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

WASHINGTON - More than a dozen protesters calling on senators to reject the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, were arrested Monday moments before the first day of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings began.

Unlike in past years, the public was not allowed to watch the hearings in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Demonstrators instead took their dissent to the entrances of Senate office buildings and the marble steps of the Supreme Court.

About 8:45 a.m., anti-Barrett protesters were handcuffed and removed from the doorway of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where a sit-in was underway.

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They carried signs and wore cloth face masks bearing the likeness of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death on Sept. 18 created the vacancy Trump is seeking to fill.

Across the street, conservative women cheered as they held up signs that said "confirm Amy" and "women for Amy."

The group, dotted with maskless students and women holding their children, chanted "law and order" from behind a police line as officers lifted protesters to their feet, one at a time.

For hours, competing chants of "let the people decide" and "fill that seat" filled the cold, wet air outside government buildings. Tense debates broke out among members of the two groups as others resorted to shouting.

"Put on a mask!" yelled one woman.

"Do you even have a permit?" shouted another.

Outside the Supreme Court, women in the red robes and white hoods of handmaids stood solemnly in front of a line of young women jumping and dancing in black robes and white wigs.

"Whose court? Our court," they chanted, as the rain began to fall again.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is beginning four days of confirmation hearings for Barrett. The hearings come 22 days before the election, with Senate Republicans intent on installing the conservative judge on the court.

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Two members of the committee have tested positive for the coronavirus and some senators were participating remotely.