Sen. Cory Booker released previously confidential documents Thursday from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s past into the public, declaring it an act of civil disobedience and saying he was ready to be kicked out of the Senate for his behavior.
Republicans said it was presidential posturing for Mr. Booker, who is part of a crowd of Democrats eying a White House bid, and looking to use the confirmation hearings to try to stand out for liberal activists.
But Mr. Booker said the documents, which he says relate to “racial profiling,” deserve to be made public. And he said he would welcome being martyred for his actions, which the GOP said could include being expelled from the Senate.
“Bring the charges,” the New Jersey senator demanded.
By the time he released the documents, Republicans said they had, in fact, been cleared for release.
The conflict arose after Mr. Booker probed Judge Kavanaugh Wednesday night over his thoughts on race in America — and demanded he explain 2002 emails where he said the Supreme Court nominee discussed racial profiling.
But the emails are among tens of thousands that have been turned over to the Judiciary Committee, though they are not yet public. That left the nominee struggling to answer, and Republicans complaining of unfair treatment.
Mr. Booker quoted from the emails during his questioning of the judge. He said they were labeled “racial profiling,” and said they related to the practice after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
After Judge Kavanaugh said he wanted to see the emails before responding, it was revealed that the email couldn’t be shared because it was deemed “committee confidential.”
Republicans argued that even discussing the documents in public was a violation.
But Democrats said the documents should never have been kept confidential in the first place.
“I am releasing it to expose that number one, emails that are being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security,” Mr. Booker said Thursday morning.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said he hoped Mr. Booker would change his mind because releasing sensitive records would be “conduct unbecoming of a senator.”
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Other Democrats on the committee, though, stood behind Mr. Booker. Several said they would also release confidential documents, and said they would face the consequences along with Mr. Booker.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, welcomed their resistance on Twitter.
“I stand [with] Judiciary Committee Democrats who are well within their rights to release these very important documents that a former Kavanaugh deputy designed as ‘committee confidential,’ ” Mr. Schumer tweeted.
• Gabriella Munoz contributed to this report.