The White House and the Senate majority leader have insisted the pro-abortion protests in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices poised to overturn the Roe decision are protected by the First Amendment.
However, a federal law makes that activity a crime punishable by up to one year in jail, as affirmed by legal experts cited by the Washington Post editorial board.
The law, 18 USC 1507, specifically forbids demonstrations at the residence of a judge for the purpose of influencing “the discharge of his duty.”
Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Since the May 2 leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating a majority of justices are prepared to overturn Roe, pro-abortion protesters with have marched and chanted in front of the residences of six justices in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.
Late Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivered a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to enforce the federal statute.
The Post quoted Tabatha Abu El-Haj of Drexel University’s law school saying the law applies to the current protests of Supreme Court justices and likely would be found constitutional.
She said the protesters “appear to be picketing and parading with the relevant intent and at the relevant locations,” adding “the statute has a catch-all ‘resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence.'”
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Meanwhile, at the White House daily briefing Tuesday, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged the “outrage” over the “peaceful” protests at the homes of justices but urged the demonstrators to continue.
“We certainly continue to encourage [protests] outside of judge’s homes, and that’s the president’s position,” she said.
Psaki then tried to turn the tables, charging “voices on the right who have called out this protest” have remained “silent for years on protests that have happened outside the homes of school board members, Michigan secretary of state, or including threats made to women seeking reproductive health care, or even an insurrection against our capitol.”
See Psaki’s remarks:
Jen Psaki just encouraged people to participate in illegal protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes.
“We certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges’ homes.”pic.twitter.com/78wsrXTAbv
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) May 10, 2022
On Monday, a reporter asked Psaki why the White House would condone the protests in light of the federal statute.
“We’re certainly not suggesting anyone break any laws,” she said.
However, a federal judge appointed by President Obama urged the Justice Department to enforce the law.
Esther Salas, in an interview with Fox News, recalled that her son was murdered at her home in 2020 by a gunman posing as a delivery man who was there to assassinate her.
“We no longer have our son,” she told Dana Perino. “And why? Because I was doing my job.”
See Salas’ remarks:
Powerful words from Obama-appointed district judge Esther Salas on with @DanaPerino. Her only son was murdered at her home in 2020 by a gunman posing as a delivery man, intent on assassinating her.
“We no longer have our son. And why? Because I was doing my job.” pic.twitter.com/acDK7qMfpl
— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) May 10, 2022
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was asked by a reporter Tuesday if he was “comfortable with protests that we saw outside the homes of Supreme Court justices over the weekend?”
“If protests are peaceful, yes,” he replied.
See Schumer’s remarks:
“Are you comfortable with protests that we saw outside the homes of Supreme Court justices over the weekend?”
CHUCK SCHUMER: “Yes”pic.twitter.com/lUYITm73fZ
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 11, 2022
See video of protest at home of Justice Samuel Alito:
‘Our bodies, our voice’ — Abortion rights activists gathered outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel Alito to protest his leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade pic.twitter.com/a82ipfEH6d
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 11, 2022
The addresses of the six justices were published by the group Ruth Sent Us, which declares its dedication to the legacy of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In fact, Ginsburg, while a strong advocate of abortion rights, criticized the framework of the Roe decision in a speech shortly before she was confirmed to the high court in 1993. She said the court in 1973 should have framed the right to abortion as a right of equal protection rather than privacy.
The leaked draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito argued the Constitution “makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”
Overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal but rather would put the issue in the hands of the people through their state legislatures.
On Sunday, protesters clad in costumes based on the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” disrupted mass at a number of Catholic churches in the nation’s capital.
This is what Mother’s Day should look like. Catholic and Evangelical Churches nationwide: pic.twitter.com/BxvGhBGodn
— Ruth Sent Us 🪧 (@RuthSentUs) May 3, 2022
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