Protester Interrupts Sotomayor Hearing

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
The opening remarks of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination hearing this morning were interrupted by an anti-abortion protester who called abortion "genocide."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was speaking Monday morning when the protester shouted out, "Senator, what about the unborn?"

Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy quickly slammed down the gavel and called for order.

"You are guests of the Senate while you are here," he said. "Everybody is a guest of the Senate. Judge Sotomayor deserves the respect of being heard." Leahy called for police to remove the protester from the chamber, and they did so.

Leahy said there should be no displays either for or against Sotomayor during the hearing.

Police told The Associated Press that the protester is a Virginian named Robert James. He was reportedly charged with unlawful conduct and disruption of Congress.

A second protester shouted something not long after James' outburst. He was also removed from the hearing.

The AP reports that "Sotomayor turned her head briefly toward her family and friends seated in the front row as the man was taken away and his shouts faded." The nominee spent the morning largely silent as senators made their opening remarks.