WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s security chief has called on officials in Virginia and Maryland to enforce laws banning protests outside judges’ homes after weeks of abortion-rights protests.
In four letters sent to Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland; Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia; Jeffrey McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; and Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Executive Supreme Court Marshal Gail A. Curley, cited protests and “threatening activity” in his application.
After a draft notice leaked in early May showed the court‘s conservative majority was set to overturn Roe v Wade, which guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, protesters have regularly gathered outside the homes of these judges to denounce the decision. The court formally issued its opinion at the end of June.
“Protesters gathered outside the home of a Fairfax County judge chanting expletives,” reads the letter to Mr. Youngkin, which was sent on Saturday. “And dozens appeared outside the home of another in Fairfax County chanting ‘no privacy for us, no peace for you! It is exactly this kind of conduct that Virginia law prohibits.
The laws cited by Ms. Curley are both state and local ordinances that would ban various types of demonstrations outside private residences with certain exceptions, but it is unclear whether the protesters necessarily violated the laws.
From Opinion: The End of Roe v. wade
Commentary by Times Opinion editors and columnists on the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.
- Michael Goldberg: “The end of Roe v. Wade was predicted, but in large swaths of the country it still created heartbreaking and potentially tragic uncertainties.”
- Spencer Bokat Lindell: “What exactly does it mean for the Supreme Court to experience a crisis of legitimacy, and is it really one?”
- Bonnie Kristian, journalist: “For many supporters of former President Donald Trump, Friday’s Supreme Court ruling was a long overdue vindication. It could also mark the end of his political career.
- Erika BachiochiLawyer : “It is precisely the state of existential dependence of the unborn child on its mother, and not its autonomy, which makes it particularly eligible for care, education and legal protection.”
In one of her letters, Ms Curley also referred to the arrest last month of a California man who was found with a gun and other weapons near Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of Judge Brett M Kavanaugh. Federal officials said the man planned to break into the judge’s home to kill him and charged him with attempted murder.
On the evening of June 24, after the Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of abortion rights, a small crowd chanted, sang and banged pots and pans on the quiet street of Burke, Va., where Judge Clarence Thomas lives. The police barricaded the entire block. Protesters also appeared outside Judge Kavanaugh’s home, apparently outnumbering police, and security vans were seen guarding Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s home in Alexandria, Virginia.
Protests over the leaked draft notice have heightened concerns over the safety of judges and a fence has been erected around the Supreme Court building in response to the protests.
Last month, the House quickly passed a bill that would extend police protection to the immediate families of Supreme Court justices. The Senate has already passed the legislation and is awaiting President Biden’s signature.
The six Republican-appointed justices live in wealthy enclaves in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, which border Washington.
Mr Elrich, the Fairfax County official, said in a statement that he had no record of a letter from Ms Curley, but he criticized her request, saying the federal government was primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of judges and their families.
“It is very troubling that the court is taking this approach,” Mr. Elrich said. “If the Marshal is concerned about safety, then she and her staff should communicate directly with our Chief Constable, myself and my staff rather than having a letter to the press issued.”
In a statement, the Fairfax County Police Department said it was responsible for protecting the public, including three judges, and safeguarding people’s constitutional right to protest. He was “well aware” of the laws that govern protests, he said, adding that he had a unit specifically “trained to assist crowds who gather to express their views”.
Mr. Youngkin and Mr. Hogan have previously expressed concern about the protests.
In statement posted on Twitter On Saturday, Mr. Hogan’s communications director said “the governor has directed the Maryland State Police to further investigate enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.” He said the Justice Department had denied a request by Mr. Hogan to enforce federal laws prohibiting protests outside judges’ residences.
Sadie Kuhns, organizer of Our Rights DC, a group started by protesters in May that has staged more than 30 protests outside the homes of Tory judges, said the group has not seen a response from law enforcement to its protests and had no intention of stopping.
“These six people control the lives of millions of people,” Ms Kuhns said. “And if the only thing we can do is peacefully exercise our First Amendment rights outside of their homes, that’s what we’re going to do.” It empowers people. »