Two Republican governors have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to have the Justice Department stop protests outside the homes of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices living in their states.
Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Maryland, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Virginia, on Wednesday sent a letter to Garland asking him to enforce a 1950 federal statute that outlaws demonstrations that are aimed at influencing a judge’s pending decision.
“Today,@GovernorVA and I sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Department of Justice to provide adequate resources to keep the
Supreme Court justices and their families safe amid ongoing protests at their homes,” Hogan tweeted on Wednesday, along with a copy of the letter signed by himself and Youngkin.
“It is in your hands to ensure that applicable federal law is enforced to preserve the integrity of our American judicial system and the safety of our citizens,” the governors say in the letter.
“While protesting a final opinion from the Supreme Court is commonplace when done on the steps of the Court or in the public square, the circumstances of the current picketing at the Justices’ private homes in residential neighborhoods are markedly different,” they added.
The protests were sparked after a February draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito was recently leaked indicating that the court likely will overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Youngkin had already attempted to have county authorities enforce a state law but was rebuffed.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said Youngkin’s request for a security perimeter was 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.
As for the demonstrators, they say it’s all moot because they don’t expect to change the justices’ minds before the final vote anyway.
“There’s no changing their minds. We’re expressing our fury, our rage,” 70-year-old Donna Damico told The Washington Post while protesting outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Montgomery County, Maryland, home last week.
“We’re impotent, and this is really all we got other than praying that people vote in November.”
Others who were protesting Wednesday night agreed.
“I don’t think a bunch of neighbors walking by with candles is going to change Kavanaugh’s mind — or endanger him,” Lynn Kanter told the Post.
A 1965 Supreme Court decision, Cox v. Louisiana, upheld a state law modeled on the federal statute, ruling that “a State may adopt safeguards necessary and appropriate to assure that the administration of justice at all stages is free from outside control and influence.”
“There is no room at any stage of judicial proceedings for such intervention; mob law is the very antithesis of due process,” the justices wrote in that decision.
The Associated Press contributed.