According to records recently made public by a U.S. senator, the U.S. marshals assigned to protect Supreme Court justices‘ homes last year were instructed to avoid making arrests, contradicting Attorney General Merrick Garland’s promises to Congress.
Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) challenged Garland with the instruction manual used by the marshals assigned to guard the justices. Arrests were not to be a top priority, it stated, as reported by The Washington Times.
Conservatives argued the demonstrations, which started after a draft of the Dobbs decision was leaked, are illegal because they violate a federal law that forbids demonstrations outside of a judge’s residence with the aim of swaying a decision.
In March, Garland told senators that his prosecutors were unable to file charges unless the local marshals made arrests, and the marshals on the scene didn’t see a need to do so.
“They were actively discouraged from doing so,” Britt asserted.
Making arrests was clearly stated as “not the goal” of the deployment in one section of the guidance, and as “a last resort to prevent physical harm” in another.
That seems to refute Mr. Garland’s claim that the agents had the authority to conduct arrests of judges who were demonstrating but chose not to because they didn’t see the need.
A last page stated that prior coordination with federal prosecutors was required for any arrests, which Britt claimed again conflicts with Garland’s claims.
“Any contemplated [marshals] enforcement action should be coordinated in advance with the appropriate USAO,” the guidance said, referencing the U.S. attorney’s office.
At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in March, Britt questioned Garland over his knowledge of the directives.
While he claimed he was unaware, he maintained his earlier assertion that the marshals were still in a position to take action.
Garland said the justices’ lives and property were their first priority to safeguard “but that doesn’t mean they are in any way precluded from making other kinds of arrests.”
“It’s clear the marshals were given a different directive,” Britt replied. “I’d ask you to look into that.”