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County, governor spar over protests at justices' homes

By Via AP news wire
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fairfax County officials have rebuffed a request from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhoods of U.S. Supreme Court justices living in the county after some justices have faced protests outside their homes.

Youngkin, a Republican, made the request Wednesday in a letter to the county board of supervisors. “I fundamentally believe such demonstrations and picketing should not be allowed at the Justice's (sic) homes as they are meant to intimidate and influence the Justices,” he wrote.

Three Supreme Court justices — Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas — live in the county. Justices living in and outside the county have been confronted with protests outside their homes since a draft of Alito's opinion that would overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision was leaked.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said Youngkin's request for a security perimeter is 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.

“We will enforce laws that serve to protect persons and property,” McKay wrote. “Our officers are equally committed to protecting the First Amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech.”

Fairfax County Police, for their part, said through a spokeswoman that they’re providing extra staffing in response to reports of planned protests “to maintain the safety and security of the public, while ensuring First Amendment rights are protected.”

Youngkin also joined Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in calling on federal law enforcement entities to “take the lead and provide sustained resources” to protect the justices and ensure the neighborhoods are secure in the weeks and months ahead.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the governors called on the Department of Justice to enforce a federal law that prohibits “pickets or parades” with the intent to influence a judge.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement Wednesday that Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and justices. He noted that Garland had directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help support the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police.

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Dive Deeper:
Republican governors ask DoJ to block protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes
The governors of Virginia and Maryland sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for increased protection for conservative…
Maryland and Virginia governors urge DOJ to tighten security outside justices' homes
The Republican governors are asking for federal law enforcement to take the lead in protecting the justices in the weeks…
GOP governors call on DOJ to 'enforce the law' as protesters gather outside justices' homes
The debate over demonstrations at Supreme Court justices’ homes is just one of the political fault lines emerging from the…
Editorial: Protesting for Roe at justices' homes is self-defeating and wrong
The apparently pending Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade is an affront to women’s rights to biological self-determination and…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Protesters rally outside US supreme court justices’ homes ahead of pro-choice marches
Protests have been occurring since the leak as organizations prepare for a nationwide day of marches on Saturday
GOP's SCOTUS protest crackdown: legal?
The Justice Department has not yet signaled that it will be pursuing legal action against any of the protesters
Get all your news in one place