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SCOTUS justices face protests, paid sightings

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — For service industry workers in the Washington, D.C. area, reporting the location of a Supreme Court justice out in public could net them up to $250.

Shut Down DC, a protest group in the capital, tweeted Friday that it would send people money via Venmo for any confirmed sightings of specific Supreme Court justices. The tweet named Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts — all who voted to overturn Roe V. Wade.

The tweet followed reports that Wednesday, a crowd of protesters gathered outside a Charlie Morton’s Steakhouse in D.C. as Kavanaugh ate inside. The protesters called for the restaurant’s manager to kick the justice out and not serve him.

Kavanaugh was ultimately forced to leave through a backdoor exit after protests built outside the main door of Morton’s.

The gathering did not bring any reports of violence, but the restaurant called the protest selfish and devoid of decency.

In a statement, Morton’s wrote:

“Honorable Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and all of our other patrons at the restaurant were unduly harassed by unruly protestors while eating dinner at our Morton’s restaurant. Politics, regardless of your side or views, should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner. There is a time and place for everything. Disturbing the dinner of all of our customers was an act of selfishness and void of decency.”

Shut Down DC later mocked the statement, posting a tweet that read, “Someone please do a dramatic reading of the @mortons statement and upload it to TikTok. Best costume/setting wins.”

Politico reported that the restaurant has since been flooded with fake reservations, calls and bad reviews due to its stance against the protesters.

Former Secret Service special agent Evy Poumpouras told NewsNation that people have the right to peacefully protest, but what they are seeing here is a complicated line between protests and paying people to possibly harass or stalk individuals.

“But here’s the difference: they’re public figures. And this is where it becomes different. It’s the same thing when we protected the president, the vice president, chiefs of staff … wherever these people would go, they would attract individuals who had unhealthy interest toward them, or wanted to cause them harm,” Poumpouras said.

She said it’s dangerous and reckless for the protest group to be tweeting out to people in the way that they are, because it’s inviting people with ill intentions to cause harm to the justices, or other public figures.

“You’re inviting problems,” Poumpouras said.

On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended the protesters against Kavanaugh who gathered outside Morton’s Steakhouse in an interview.

In response to Kavanaugh’s dining experience, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, tweeted in response to the news: “Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions.” This was meant to be a shot toward Kavanaugh’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. 

Buttigieg defended his husband’s response, saying that, “When public officials go into public life, we should expect two things: One, that you should always be free from violence, harassment, and intimidation … and two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protest, people exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Buttigieg also noted that Kavanaugh didn’t even notice the protesters outside the establishment, but was told about them before his departure.

This all comes as protesters gathered outside the White House this weekend calling on President Joe Biden to do something to help after the controversial Supreme Court decision.

While biking in Delaware this weekend, the president said he had a message for protesters.

“Keep protesting. Keep making your point. It’s critically important,” Biden said. “We can do a lot of things to accommodate the rights of women in the meantime. But fundamentally, the only way we are going to change this is if we have a national law that reinstates Roe V. Wade, that’s the bottom line.”

Planned Parenthood has come out in the past saying it rejects any threats of violence during protests.

But just last month, Congress passed legislation providing extra security to the justices and their families.

The abortion decision led to gatherings outside the homes of the conservative justices. The gatherings did not bring any reports of violence, but early last month, police arrested a man near Kavanaugh’s house in Maryland. They said he traveled all the way from California with a gun, zip ties and pepper spray. The man later pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, but remains behind bars Monday morning. 

The Hill contributed to this report.

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