House Republicans are pressing Attorney General Merrick Garland to charge demonstrators over protesting outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices who supported a draft opinion striking down legal protections for abortion.
The joint letter, led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), underscored the need to safeguard Section 1507 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, under which it is a federal crime “to picket or parade outside of a judge’s home, particularly if the intent of such actions are to influence them in the discharge of their official duties.”
It came after the leak of a draft majority Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision handed down in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide. The draft decision, first published by Politico on May 2, has since drawn protests nationwide, including at Catholic churches on Mother’s Day and at judges’ publicized home addresses.
Calling it a “blatant attempt” to obstruct justice by terrorizing the Supreme Court justices and their families, House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said Americans “must maintain the independence of our courts.”
Police said a fire was set in an apparent arson attack at the headquarters of a pro-life organization in Madison, Wisconsin. There were also reports of vandalism at a pro-life pregnancy clinic in Oregon.
“Coercing a judge by threatening their families, vandalizing their homes, and firebombing pro-life clinics is not ‘free speech,’” said Congressman Doug LaMalfa. “There are plenty of places to protest, including at the Supreme Court. Protesting at a judge’s home is not allowed by law for a reason.”
"We therefore ask a simple question: as Supreme Court Justices are being illegally targeted at their homes, do you intend to enforce the law?" the Republicans wrote in the letter.
Some Democratic senators also rebuked intimidation of the justices, according to Politico, yet the Biden administration is now on the cusp of its decision on whether or not to prosecute violators as the soft approach has drawn fire from GOP lawmakers.
“The same party and administration that wanted to convince the public that Republicans undermined the rule of law are now openly intimidating the third branch of government or supporting the efforts of those who do,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said, calling it “disgraceful.”
Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said, “If Attorney General Garland condones or gives a pass to this criminal behavior like WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki, it would be an enormous blow to the rule of law in our country.”
“General Garland has said he wouldn’t do the President’s bidding as Attorney General, now is his time to prove it,” the congressman wrote in a statement.
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.