Republicans are asking the DOJ to push through a law that would bar pro-choice protesters from protesting outside judges’ houses

Republicans are asking the DOJ to push through a law that would bar pro-choice protesters from protesting outside judges’ houses

In recent days, protesters have held peaceful demonstrations outside the homes of several conservative Supreme Court justices after the release of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion that rejected Roe v. Wade would fall. In a statement Wednesday night, a Justice Department spokesman said Garland would continue to be briefed on judges’ “security matters” and that he had directed the US Marshals Service to provide assistance to the separate police agency that provides protection to the Supreme Court.

The statement came as Republicans ramped up pressure on Garland to pass the law and the propriety of the protests have divided Democrats, who hope outrage over an expected Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights will ease them in the medium term will strengthen.

The White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have declined to condemn protests outside the homes of judges so long as they remain peaceful, while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin called them “reprehensible” on Thursday. The Senate has also approved a new safety package for judges and their families, but the prospects for the bill in the House of Representatives are unclear.

“The president may choose to characterize protests, riots and incitement to violence as mere passion,” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in a Wednesday letter to Garland. “But these attempts to influence and intimidate members of the federal judiciary are an affront to the independence of the judiciary.”

The Justice Department declined to comment on the letters from Republicans pushing to enforce the 1950s law. But the involvement of the US Marshals Service could make it easier for federal prosecutors to enforce the law Conservatives cited along with other laws should protesters pose a threat. So far no arrests have been made and the demonstrations have so far been peaceful.

Law enforcement officials say that although similar laws have been maintained in circumstances other than the current protests, they are widely used and have not been used to prosecute other protests that would appear illegal under the 1950 Act.

Governors of states where judges reside are asking for federal assistance

The leak last week of a majority vote bill overturning the Supreme Court’s 1973 precedent enshrining abortion rights has prompted demonstrations outside the homes of Justices Samuel Alito, who authored the bill, and Brett Kavanaugh, believed to be part of the Conservatives Majority in favor of dismissing Roe v. Repeal Wade from 1973. Protesters have also demonstrated outside the home of Chief Justice John Roberts.

A cordon was erected around the Supreme Court grounds last week following the release of the draft Opinion. The US Marshals Service said in a statement Monday that it was helping to respond to “heightened security concerns from the unauthorized release of the draft advisory.”

“The Marshal of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Police are responsible for protecting the United States Supreme Court and its facilities,” the statement said. “The US Marshals Service (USMS) has a strong partnership with the Supreme Court Police and at the request of the Supreme Court Marshal, the USMS provides assistance when needed.”

The Republican governors of Maryland and Virginia, where several justices have their homes, hinted at the law on a Wednesday Letter requesting Garland to offer more federal funding to protect Supreme Court justices, as they urged him to enforce federal law banning protests from influencing court proceedings.

“We are also deeply concerned by reports of protesters using threats,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in the letter, which noted that one person told CNN affiliate WUSA9, “If you tell us take our decisions, we will riot.”

The governors’ letter comes amid questions about whether local or state agencies could pursue prosecutions under state law, such as a Virginia law banning picketing that “interferes” with an individual’s “right to rest in his or her home.”

When asked by CNN about this law in Virginia, the local prosecutor in Fairfax County — where some of the judges live — said the protesters would not be prosecuted by his office.

“I will not prosecute parishioners for peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. My focus will remain on protecting the rights of women in Fairfax County should this dangerous draft Supreme Court decision go into effect, which is why I have vowed never to prosecute a woman for making her own health decisions.” , Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement to CNN.

The protest law was aimed at efforts to influence the judicial process

The federal law in question provides for fines and up to a year in prison for “picketing or parading” in the vicinity of “a building or residence occupied or occupied by” a judge with the “intent to cause a judge” to “ to influence the dismissal of his judge”. Duty.”

The law was also cited in the letter Grassley sent to Garland on Wednesday.

“There is no question that far-left activists made a concerted and coordinated effort to intimidate the court into changing the draft Dobbs decision,” Grassley wrote, referring to the name of the abortion case now before the court.

“But instead of investigating and prosecuting this illegal activity, the administration sadly dismissed the threats and dangers to both the judiciary and our judicial system at large,” he wrote.

The White House has warned against “violence, threats or vandalism” against judges.
Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, cited the law in his own Tuesday letter to Garland, which went so far as to suggest that the attorney general could face impeachment if Republicans retake Congress.

Wednesday’s Justice Department statement made no reference to the law, nor did it commit to prosecuting the protesters who protested outside the judges’ homes.

“Attorney General Garland will continue to be briefed on security matters relating to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court justices,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said. “The Attorney General directed the US Marshals Service to ensure the safety of judges by providing additional assistance to the Supreme Court Marshal and the Supreme Court Police.”

Legal experts – who pointed to Supreme Court precedents dealing with similar legislation – said the 1950 law, which covers protests in judges’ residences, was likely to be upheld as constitutional and they said it appeared to be under to be applicable in the current circumstances.

One of the relevant judgments was the Court’s 1965 judgment in Cox v. Louisiana, in which the Court said: “A State may take necessary and reasonable safeguards to ensure that the administration of justice at all stages is free from outside control and influence is.”

If this and other Supreme Court rulings weren’t currently on the books, there could be plausible arguments as to why the 1950 law is unconstitutional, according to Eugene Volokh, a professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law.

But he said: “You have a precedent that’s pretty clear and the answer, at least for now, is the law.”

CNN’s Evan Perez and Whitney Wild contributed coverage.

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