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'It Is a Federal Crime': Why Protests at Homes of Supreme Court Justices Could Violate Federal Law

05-10-2022
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Over the weekend, protesters demonstrated outside of the homes of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts. (Screenshot credit: CBN News)

Pro-choice protesters descended on the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito, as well as the home of Chief Justice John Roberts in the past few days. The invasion of their family privacy came after their home addresses were posted online by a leftist group in protest over a Supreme Court draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade that was leaked to a news outlet. 

The question:  Are these protests a violation of federal law? The Biden Department of Justice has not commented on the protests by pro-abortion activists outside of justices' homes even though a federal statute forbids such actions that are designed to "influence" "any judge, juror, witness, or court officer."

In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Jonathan Turley, a noted law professor at Georgetown University, wrote, "In this case, the Biden administration and the Justice Department have condemned the court's leaked draft — but not the threatened protests at justices' homes, even though those arguably could be treated as a crime. Under 18 U.S.C. 1507, it is a federal crime to protest near a residence occupied by a judge or jury with the intent to influence their decisions in pending cases, and this case remains pending."

The 18 U.S. Code 1507 reads: "Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

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Regardless of the federal statute, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has not publicly addressed the protests or the online doxxing of the justices' home addresses. 

CBN News has reached out to the Justice Department for comment. We'll post it here if we hear back, but the White House has already declined to oppose efforts to expose the home addresses of U.S. Supreme Court justices:

As CBN News has reported, protests have also erupted in front of the Supreme Court building and in cities around the country after the leaked preliminary opinion suggested a majority of conservatives on the court are prepared to reverse the 1973 Roe decision, which would move the ultimate decision over abortion laws back to state legislatures.  

The outcry among pro-abortion activists led the group Ruth Sent Us to publicly post the partial addresses of the justices online. The group said the addresses it exposed were the justices' home addresses, according to The National Review.

The group published a map showing the addresses of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas. 

The protests are still unfolding as the group ShutDownDC organized a march in Justice Samuel Alito's (who authored the leaked draft opinion) neighborhood on Monday, according to NPR

"Because it's been impossible to reach him at the Supreme Court (especially now with the enormous fences), we will do it at his home," the group announced on its website. 

On Tuesday, Turley noted in a tweet that Justice Alito and his family had to be moved to an undisclosed location for security reasons. 

On Friday, Justice Clarence Thomas told a judicial conference in Atlanta on Friday that the court cannot be "bullied," according to NBC News

As a society, "we are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don't like," Thomas said.

"We can't be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events from earlier this week are a symptom of that," he continued. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a measure to beef up security for all nine Supreme Court justices and their families.

The measure known as the Supreme Court Police Parity Act of 2022 makes certain the justices are provided security as loud protesters have yelled and ranted at them using bullhorns right outside their homes. 

The bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).  

"Threats to the physical safety of Supreme Court Justices and their families are disgraceful, and attempts to intimidate and influence the independence of our judiciary cannot be tolerated," Cornyn said in a statement. "I'm glad the Senate quickly approved this measure to extend Supreme Court police protection to family members, and the House must take up and pass it immediately." 

It now moves to the House for its consideration.

The U.S. Marshal's Service is currently assisting the marshal of the Supreme Court to protect and provide security to all nine justices and their families, according to CBS News

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