Ethics and Democracy

#SaveSCOTUS People’s Hearing Toolkit


State of Play

Donald Trump was implicated in a federal crime when his attorney, Michael Cohen, entered a plea deal under oath that Trump ordered him to break campaign finance law during the 2016 campaign. Yet Senate Republicans are ramming through the confirmation for Brett Kavanaugh, the judge that Trump hand-picked to exonerate him on the Supreme Court.

This is one of the most difficult fights of the Trump era. Our fundamental rights, and the integrity of our democracy, are at stake. Kavanaugh has previously demonstrated his willingness to undermine reproductive rights, gut the Affordable Care Act, side with big corporations over workers and consumers, dismantle environmental protections, diminish immigrant rights, and more. He also thinks sitting presidents not only shouldn’t be indicted, they shouldn’t even be investigated.

Mitch McConnell wants to get this over with as quickly as possible, so we don’t have much time. The path to victory is narrow, but it’s there.

Our Strategy

Plain and simple: we need 51 senators to oppose this nominee on the floor. Let’s be clear: Democrats have no way to hold up this confirmation or delay the process. Mitch McConnell can and will hold a vote on Trump’s pick.

In order to get 51 "no" votes, we need every Democrat to stick together, and we need to pick up at least a couple of Republicans. Our top targets are Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), and Joe Donnelly (IN.) Check our tracker daily to find out where your senators stand.

Only through intense pressure from constituents will senators understand what’s at stake and what’s expected of them. Your senators need to need to know that their constituents demand that they save our democracy by opposing Trump’s extreme nominee.

As soon as the confirmation hearings begin on September 4th, we will kick off three days of “People’s Hearings” at district offices across target states to show senators that constituents are paying attention.

Click here for more information on Indivisible’s 2-step strategy to secure 51 votes against the nominee, then retake power in the Senate.

Planning a People’s Hearing

Before the Event

In the next week, hold a planning meeting to set up your People’s Hearing event so you’re ready to take action as soon as the confirmation hearings in DC begin. The confirmation hearings are scheduled from September 4th through September 7th.

1) Decide on a the best time and day for your event.

  • If you are coordinating with other groups and/or partners in your state, consider having events at multiple offices across the state at the same time to maximize your impact!

2) Once you have chosen a date and time, register the event(s) online under the #SaveSCOTUS tag by September 3rd so that others can find it and promote it through our voter contact tools!

3) Make a recruitment/promotion plan.

  • Start with a recruitment goal for your event. How many new faces do you want in the crowd? How many seasoned activists? Having a goal will help you target your recruitment.
  • Once registered, make sure to advertise the event link to your social media channels, listserv members, and through word of mouth.
  • Call each member of your local Indivisible group, and personally invite them to join you in this action.
  • Invite other members of your community, including your friends and family.
  • Make fliers and hand them out or post them at events in your community.

4) Prepare any props or hearing setup needs:

  • Each target state will receive a cardboard cutout of Kavanaugh. You can make your statements addressing this prop!
  • Decide where you will hold your hearing. If you can not get inside the district office, make a plan for setting up outside the office on the sidewalk. You can set up the event so it will mirror the hearing happening in DC (i.e a panel of Senators at one side of the room, with Kavanaugh sitting at a smaller table facing the panel.) Alternatively, you can set it up like an empty-chair town hall, with all statements being directed at the cardboard Kavanaugh as the focal point of the room.
    • Think through how many tables, chairs, podiums, etc you will need to make this happen.
    • Be creative and make the space work for your group!
  • Make signs, similar to the ones used in town halls, that show your support or displeasure at the statements being made.

5) Identify key roles that you will need for the event:

  • Constituents with Statements: Identify at least four group members to read aloud statements addressing the Cardboard Kavanaugh and the Senator’s staff. You can use this resource containing scripts on various important issues ranging from reproductive rights to the environment. Have these speakers write a quick draft of their statements and share with the group for feedback. Prepare to hand in these statements to the staff to deliver to the Senator.
  • General Audience Members: All other members can hold up red signs, to display your displeasure of Kavanaugh’s past decisions and statements.
  • Inside office lead: If your MoC’s office doesn’t let groups of people inside to hold your event, designate one person (or 2-3 people) to deliver your mock-questions from constituents that you would like your Senator to address during the hearings and/or vote.
  • Photographer/videographer:. Ask one person to take photos and one person to take video. Make sure either or both of these people make it inside the office!
  • Social media coordinator: At least one person (could also be the photographer) should be tweeting out photos of the event in real time!
  • Media liaison: Press-savvy person to put out a media advisory and pitch reporters on coming to your event. Check out our “How to Get Press to Cover Your Event” and “Press Releases, Media Advisories, and More” resources if you need help!
  • Art director: Person in charge of supplies and crafts for posters, signs, and materials!

6) Invite media

  • Send a media advisory to local media contacts 1-2 days in advance. Use this sample media advisory to send out the details of your event!
  • The morning of the event, call your local TV stations to confirm they received the media advisory and ask if they plan to attend.
  • See more tips on reaching out to media here.

After you walk through the event and folks commit to roles, everyone should work together to help create questions and “responses” for your event!

Day of the People’s Hearing Event

  1. Gather the people who have key roles at least 45 minutes before the event. Bring snacks and water, assemble any art pieces that need assembly, test any technology, make reminder calls to everyone who signed up to attend.
    • Go over the final draft of the questions and make sure the members who have roles know the order they will be speaking.
  2. Ask the rest of the attendees to show up at least 15 minutes before the event to remind everyone the importance of the event and how fundamental freedoms and rights are at stake if Kavanaugh gets approved. Explain the plan of action and get into position.
  3. The Social Media Coordinator should record, live-tweet and/or Facebook-live the entire experience, reading out some of the messages that are being handed over to the Senator’s staff person. If no staff person is willing to meet with constituents, tape your mock-questions to the door/entrance of the office (please use tape that will not leave a residue when removed, so masking tape or similar, not duct tape).
    • Make sure that you are recording and taking photos horizontally, not vertically. It really helps the video get shared and makes it usable for press.
    • Be sure to tag your Senator.
    • Be sure to tag @IndivisibleTeam and your regional Organizer on Twitter.
    • Post photos of the action to your social media accounts!
  4. Send your stories, pictures, and best practices to stories@indivisible.org

Next Steps After the People's Hearing Event

  1. Email your attendees to thank them for a great action.
    • Immediate follow up is important!
  2. Invite all attendees and organizers to a debrief meeting.
    • Write an agenda that allows both organizers and participants to reflect, and that allows space for forward planning and improvement.
  3. Establish next steps—your senator needs to keep hearing from you!
    • You can continue to keep pressure on your senators with our call scripts here.
    • One action, or even one senator, isn’t enough: read more about our 2-Step Strategy to Save Scotus here.