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GOP governors call on DOJ to 'enforce the law' as protesters gather outside justices' homes

By Myah Ward
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gives the inaugural address after being sworn in as the 74th governor of Virginia on the steps of the State Capitol on Jan. 15, 2022 in Richmond, Va. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
UPDATED: 11 MAY 2022 11:15 PM EST

Republican Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia on Wednesday called on the Justice Department to “provide adequate resources” to protect Supreme Court justices and their families as demonstrators gather outside their homes in protest of the disclosed draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hogan and Youngkin sent the letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, citing federal statute Title 18, Section 1507 of the U.S. Code, which says it’s illegal with “the intent of influencing any judge” to picket or parade “in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer.” The governors asked Garland to “enforce the law as it is written.”

“We together ask that the Department of Justice through the respective United States Attorneys’ offices provide appropriate resources to safeguard the Justices and enforce the law as it is written,” the letter said. “It is critical that our Department acts to preserve the safety and standards of the highest court in the land,” the letter said. “There is simply too much at stake.”

The debate over protests at justices’ homes is just one of the murky political fault lines emerging from the disclosure of a draft majority opinion last week. While Republicans have denounced the protests as illegal, Democrats have been in a challenging spot — from some lawmakers pointing to past demonstrations at their own private residences to White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggesting the protests were OK as long as they were peaceful.

“I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date — and we certainly continue to encourage that — outside of judges’ homes. And that’s the president’s position,” Psaki said on Tuesday.

From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the chorus of GOP lawmakers condemning Democrats and the White House has grown louder this week. Republicans contend that Democrats are encouraging illegal activity as demonstrators gather outside of the homes of Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Youngkin in particular faced backlash from members of his own party on Tuesday, when conservatives called on the new Republican governor to do more after tweeting that state police were “closely monitoring” the protests.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on Senate Judiciary Committee, sent his own letter to Garland on Wednesday, requesting the department “prioritize the protection” of the justices.

“The President may choose to characterize protests, riots, and incitements of violence as mere passion,” Grassley wrote. “But these attempts to influence and intimidate members of the federal judiciary are an affront to judicial independence. No fair-minded person can question that ‘such conduct inherently threatens the judicial process.’”

Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said Wednesday afternoon that Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters” related to the court and justices.

“The Attorney General directed @USMarshalsHQ to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing add’l support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” Coley said on Twitter.

Another element of the fallout continued on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when the Senate once again failed to advance abortion rights legislation in a 49-51 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and all Republicans voted against the largely symbolic attempt to codify the rights.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Mitch McConnell's title.

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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…
County, governor spar over protests at justices' homes
Fairfax County officials have rebuffed a request from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhoods…
GOP turns on Youngkin for SCOTUS protest
One right-wing commentator claimed that Youngkin was welcoming a form of "terrorism"
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