Shameful Supreme Court Protests Threaten American Order

There was something ridiculous about the half-dozen protesters in ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ costumes who showed up at the home of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, with one telling a reporter that Barrett, as an adoptive mother, doesn’t know what it is. carry a child to term. Never mind that justice gave birth five times.

Yet even this wacky spectacle was part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation against Supreme Court justices, who had never been directly targeted in this way before.

Protests at the homes of Tory justices who might vote to overthrow or limit Roe have been a shameful step forward for our political culture, which was not particularly high to begin with. It is a deeply illiberal act that adds an element of threat to the deliberations of a body that is meant to be above the fray, let alone subject to physical threats.

If we continue on this path, it will destroy our status as a nation of laws and further disturb our public life with consequences that no one can foresee.

These were not ordinary demonstrations. No one doubts that protests play an important role in manifesting popular support or passion around a given cause. It’s different from going to the judges’ homes, which sends the unmistakable and inherently threatening message: we know where you live.

Bullying is always wrong in a democratic republic and a nation of laws. It substitutes the threat of force for democratic will as honed by our representative institutions and seeks to bypass reasoned decision-making.

It is particularly blatant when it targets members of a judicial body. In fact, it is a violation of federal law to demonstrate outside a courthouse or home “intent to influence a judge, juror, witness, or officer in the performance of his or her duties.” In other words, precisely what has happened since Judge Samuel Alito’s draft opinion was leaked to overthrow Roe.

The White House has not signaled any discomfort with the protests as long as they are “peaceful,” even though they are clearly intended to distort court deliberations and are a black-and-white violation of federal law. The Biden team lost everything they ever had to lecture anyone about the importance of norms or institutions.

To its credit, the Senate voted unanimously to extend security to the families of Supreme Court justices. But the threat here is greater than for the judges. These types of acts invite retaliation. Do we really want to enter an increasingly intense contest over who can best intimidate the judges and officials on the other side?

If the court stops short of overturning Roe now, it will question his legitimacy, as many people will assume the judges changed their minds only in response to the uproar and pressure that followed the leak.

Direct action apologists sometimes point out that mobbing was part of the American Revolution. It was, however, a truly pre-revolutionary, then revolutionary situation. It’s doubtful, no matter how bigoted the pro-choicers are, they’re about to call in the militia.

Even when Americans were on the verge of disbanding political groups linking them to Britain, we honor the memory of the patriots who refused to give in to the logic of the mobs – John Adams representing the British soldiers at the Boston Massacre, Alexander Hamilton protecting King’s College President Loyalists from an angry mob.

That said, at least the protesters are consistent. Roe and his subsequent decision, Casey, were never constitutional decisions, but acts of will imposed from above. Now, with those rulings in jeopardy, protesters are taking to the streets with the same stubbornness to try to subvert the workings of the Supreme Court once again and in even more blatant ways.

The friends of the republic must not allow this to happen.

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