GOP lawmakers call for end to protests at justices’ homes

Politics

FILE – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, right, speaks to the media after leaving a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus at the Capitol Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Richmond, Va. Fairfax County officials have rebuffed a request from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhoods of Supreme Court justices living in the county who have faced protests outside their homes. Youngkin, a Republican, made the request Wednesday, May 11, in a letter to the county board of supervisors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(NewsNation) — U.S. Supreme Court justices are being confronted with protests outside their homes since a draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion leaked, signaling the court would overturn the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.

Justices have faced threats, and a metal fence has been erected around the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., since the draft opinion went public.

As protesters gather outside the home of Alito, the governors of Virginia and Maryland say enough is enough.

Republican governors Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Larry Hogan of Maryland, both presidential hopefuls, are calling on federal law enforcement officials to “take the lead and provide sustained resources” to protect the justices and ensure the neighborhoods are secure in the weeks and months ahead.

The lawmakers are calling the protests an illegal attempt to obstruct justice, citing Title 18, Section 1507 of U.S. Code, which prohibits protesting outside the home of a justice that could influence a decision.

It’s a 70-year-old federal law that, if enforced, would lead to protesters being fined or possibly spending time behind bars.

Over the last week, protesters focused on the homes of justices Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts.

“I’m disappointed there was a leak and I’m disappointed that this White House is still encouraging people to break federal law and go and protest in front of the houses of supreme court justices,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

More than 40 Republican lawmakers joined a resolution condemning the protests Thursday, a day after Youngkin and Hogan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Department of Justice to enforce a federal law that prohibits “pickets or parades” with the intention of influencing a judge.

The Department of Justice has remained quiet on the matter, releasing a short statement saying, “Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. Marshals to provide additional support to ensure the safety of the justices.”

In Virginia, Fairfax County officials rebuffed a request from Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhoods of U.S. Supreme Court justices living in the county.

Three justices — Alito, Barrett and Clarence Thomas — live in the county.

Youngkin made the request Wednesday in a letter to the county board of supervisors. “I fundamentally believe such demonstrations and picketing should not be allowed at the (Justices’) homes as they are meant to intimidate and influence the Justices,” he wrote.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said Youngkin’s request for a security perimeter is unnecessary and improper. He said establishing a perimeter would amount to creating an unconstitutional neighborhood “checkpoint” that would infringe on First Amendment protest rights. He also noted that protests that have occurred outside Alito’s home in the Fort Hunt neighborhood have been peaceful.

“We will enforce laws that serve to protect persons and property,” McKay wrote. “Our officers are equally committed to protecting the First Amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech.”

Democrats remained focused on the issue of abortion while downplaying any threat posed by protesters.

“If protests are peaceful, yes,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “There’s protests 3-4 times a week outside my house.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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