WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court security chief has called on officials in Virginia and Maryland to enforce laws that would ban protests outside judges’ homes after weeks of demonstrations for abortion rights.
In four letters sent to Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland; Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia; Jeffrey McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, Supreme Court Marshal Gail A. Curley, cited protests and “threatening activities” in her request.
After a leaked draft opinion in early May showed the court’s conservative majority was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion, protesters regularly gathered outside the homes of those judges to denounce the decision. The court formally issued its ruling in late June.
“Protesters gathered outside the Fairfax County home of a judge chanting expletives,” said the letter to Mr. Youngkin, which was sent on Saturday. “And dozens showed up outside someone else’s house in Fairfax County chanting ‘No privacy for us, no peace for you!’ This is exactly this type of conduct that Virginia law prohibits.”
The laws cited by Ms. Curley are state and local ordinances that would prohibit various types of demonstrations outside private residences with certain exceptions, but it is not clear whether the protesters necessarily violated the laws.
Opinion: The end of Roe v. Wade
Commentary from Times Opinion writers and columnists on the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.
- Michelle Goldberg: “The end of Roe v. Wade, but across wide swaths of the country, it has still created harrowing and potentially tragic uncertainties.”
- Spencer Bokat Lindell: “What exactly does it mean that the Supreme Court is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy, and is it really in one?”
- Bonnie Kristian, journalist: “For many supporters of former President Donald Trump, Friday’s Supreme Court decision was a long-awaited vindication.” It could also mark the end of his political career.
- Erikalegal scholar: “It is precisely the unborn child’s state of existential dependence on its mother, not its autonomy, that gives it a special right to care, nurturing, and legal protection.”
In one of her letters, Ms. Curley also referred to the arrest last month of a California man who was found with a gun and other weapons near Chevy Chase, Maryland, the home of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Federal officials said the man planned to break into the judge’s home to kill him and charged him with attempted murder.
On the night of June 24, after the Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of abortion rights, a small crowd chanted, sang and banged on pots and pans on the quiet street in Burke, Virginia, where Judge Clarence lives. Thomas. Police cordoned off the entire block. Protesters also appeared outside Judge Kavanaugh’s home, apparently outnumbered by police officers, and security vans were seen guarding Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s home in Alexandria, Virginia.
Protests sparked by the leaked draft opinion intensified concerns about the judges’ safety, and a fence was erected around the Supreme Court building in response to the demonstrations.
Last month, the House quickly passed a bill that would extend police protection to the immediate families of Supreme Court justices. The Senate has already passed the legislation and awaits President Biden’s signature.
The six Republican-appointed justices live in wealthy enclaves in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, which border Washington.
Elrich, the Fairfax County official, said in a statement that he had no record of a letter from Ms. Curley, but criticized her request, saying the federal government was primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of judges and their families
“It is very troubling that the court is taking this approach,” Elrich said. “If the sheriff is concerned about safety, then she and her staff should communicate directly with our chief of police, me and my staff instead of sending a letter to the press.”
In a statement, the Fairfax County Police Department said it was responsible for protecting the public, including three judges, and safeguarding people’s constitutional right to protest. He was “well versed” in the laws governing protests, he said, adding that he had a unit specifically “trained to help crowds gather to express their views.”
in statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Mr. Hogan’s director of communications said “the governor has directed the Maryland State Police to further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.” He added that the Justice Department had refused an application of Mr. Hogan to enforce federal statutes that prohibit protesting at judges’ residences.
Sadie Kuhns, an organizer with Our Rights DC, a group created by protesters in May that has staged more than 30 protests outside the homes of conservative judges, said the group has not seen a police response to its demonstrations and has no plans to Stop.
“These six people have control over the lives of millions of people,” said Ms. Kuhns. “And if all we can do is peacefully exercise our First Amendment rights outside of their homes, that’s what we’ll do. It empowers people.”