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Supreme Court Marshal Asks Officials to End Protests at Justices’ Homes


WASHINGTON — The chief security officer of the Supreme Court has asked that Virginia and Maryland officials implement laws that may prohibit protests outside the homes of justices after weeks of demonstrations favoring abortion rights.

In 4 letters sent to Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland; Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia; Jeffrey McKay, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; and Marc Elrich, the Montgomery County executive, the Supreme Court marshal, Gail A. Curley, cited protests and “threatening activity” in her request.

After a leaked draft opinion in early May showed that the court’s conservative majority was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, protesters usually gathered outside the homes of those justices to denounce the choice. The court formally issued its opinion in late June.

“Protesters gathered outside one Justice’s Fairfax County home chanting expletives,” read the letter to Mr. Youngkin, which was sent on Saturday. “And dozens appeared outside one other’s Fairfax County home chanting ‘no privacy for us, no peace for you!’ This is precisely this type of conduct that Virginia law prohibits.”

The laws cited by Ms. Curley are each state and native ordinances that may prohibit various sorts of demonstrations outside of personal residences with certain exceptions, but it surely is unclear whether protesters have necessarily violated the laws.

Commentary by Times Opinion writers and columnists on the Supreme Court’s decision to finish ​​the constitutional right to abortion.

  • Michelle Goldberg: “The tip of Roe v. Wade was foreseen, but in wide swaths of the country, it has still created wrenching and potentially tragic uncertainties.”
  • Spencer Bokat-Lindell: “What exactly does it mean for the Supreme Court to experience a crisis of legitimacy, and is it really in a single?”
  • Bonnie Kristian, journalist: “For a lot of backers of former President Donald Trump, Friday’s Supreme Court decision was a long-awaited vindication.” It may additionally mark the top of his political profession.
  • Erika Bachiochi, legal scholar: “It’s precisely the unborn child’s state of existential dependence upon its mother, not its autonomy, that makes it especially entitled to care, nurture and legal protection.”

In one in all her letters, Ms. Curley also referred to the arrest last month of a California man who was found with a pistol and other weapons near the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Federal officials said the person planned to interrupt into the justice’s home to kill him and have charged him with attempted murder.

On the evening of June 24, after the Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of abortion rights, a small crowd chanted, sang and banged pots and pans on the quiet street in Burke, Va., where Justice Clarence Thomas lives. The police barricaded all the block. Protesters also appeared outside the house of Justice Kavanaugh, seemingly outnumbered by law enforcement officials, and security vans were seen guarding the home of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. in Alexandria, Va.

The protests prompted by the leaked draft opinion intensified concerns in regards to the safety of the justices, and a fence was erected across the Supreme Court constructing in response to demonstrations.

Last month, the House quickly passed a bill that may extend police protection to the immediate families of Supreme Court justices. The Senate has already passed the laws, and it awaits President Biden’s signature.

All six of the Republican-appointed justices live in wealthy enclaves in Fairfax County, Va., and Montgomery County, Md., which border Washington.

Mr. Elrich, the Fairfax County official, said in a press release that he didn’t have any record of a letter from Ms. Curley, but he criticized her request, saying that the federal government was primarily chargeable for ensuring the protection of justices and their families.

“It is rather troubling that the court would take this approach,” Mr. Elrich said. “If the marshal is anxious about security, then she and her staff should communicate directly with our police chief, myself, and my staff fairly than having a letter released to the press.”

In a press release, the Fairfax County Police Department said it was chargeable for protecting the general public, including three justices, and safeguarding the constitutional right of individuals to protest. It was “well versed” on the laws that govern protests, it said, adding that it had a unit specifically “trained to assist crowds that gather to precise their views.”

Each Mr. Youngkin and Mr. Hogan have previously expressed concern in regards to the protests.

In statement posted to Twitter on Saturday, the communications director for Mr. Hogan said “the governor has directed Maryland State Police to further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Structure.” He added that the Justice Department had declined a request from Mr. Hogan to implement federal statutes prohibiting protesting on the justices’ residences.

Sadie Kuhns, an organizer with Our Rights DC, a bunch created by protesters in May that has organized greater than 30 protests outside the homes of the conservative justices, said the group has not seen a law enforcement response to its demonstrations and has no plans to stop.

“These six people have control over hundreds of thousands of individuals’s lives,” Ms. Kuhns said. “And if the one thing we will do is exercise our First Amendment rights outside of their homes peacefully, that’s what we’re going to do. It empowers people.”

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