The chief security officer for the U.S. Supreme Court demanded that Virginia and Maryland officials enforce laws against picketing in front of private houses, saying that “threatening activity” at justices’ homes has increased in recent weeks.
Six conservative justices live in two suburban counties outside of Washington, D.C., and demonstrators have protested outside their homes since a draft opinion of the ruling that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion nationwide, was leaked in May. The court issued the final ruling last week, setting off waves of protest nationwide and larger demonstrations where the justices live.
“Earlier this week, for example, at least 30 protesters gathered outside one Justice’s Fairfax County home chanting expletives, and dozens appeared outside another’s Fairfax County home chanting ‘no privacy for us, no peace for you,’” Gail A. Curley, Marshal of the Court, said in a letter on Saturday to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “This is exactly the kind of conduct that Virginia law prohibits.”
Youngkin’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Curley sent similar letters to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the executive of Montgomery Country on Friday. Hogan’s director of communications, Michael Ricci, fired off a tweet on Saturday accusing the federal government of not enforcing laws and saying Maryland’s attorney general has questioned the constitutionality of the statute Curley cited.
Ricci said Hogan has “directed Maryland State Police to further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch live in Montgomery County. Justices Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion overturning Roe; Clarence Thomas, whose concurring opinion questioning other privacy rights has stirred many protesters; and Amy Coney Barrett live in Fairfax County, Virgina.
Curley, who is responsible for investigating the leak of the draft opinion, didn’t mention the justices by name in the letters.
In mid-May, the Justice Department provided security services to the Supreme Court and its justices as protests rose over the leaked opinion. Last month, a California man was charged with attempted murder after being arrested with a pistol outside of Kavanaugh’s house and threatening to kill him.
After that incident, Garland met with federal security officials, including Curley, to discuss the justices’ security, including 24-hour security at their homes.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate violence or threats of violence against judges or any other public servants at work, home, or any other location,” Garland said in a press release after that meeting.
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