High Court Marshal calls for enforcement of anti-picketing laws

The U.S. Supreme Court Marshal asked officials in Maryland and Virginia to enforce laws she says prohibit picketing outside the homes of judges who live in the two states.

“For weeks, large groups of protesters chanting slogans, using megaphones and beating drums have been picketing the judges’ homes,” Field Marshal Gail Curley wrote in Friday’s letters to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, at the Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and two local elected officials. officials.

Curley wrote that Virginia and Maryland laws and an ordinance in Montgomery County, Maryland, prohibit picketing at judges’ homes, and she asked officials to order police to enforce those provisions.

Judges’ homes have been the target of abortion rights protests since May, when a leaked draft opinion suggested the court was set to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Protests and threatening activity have “increased since May,” Curley wrote in a letter, and have continued since the court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was returned last week.

“Earlier this week, for example, 75 protesters picketed a judge’s home in Montgomery County for 20-30 minutes in the evening, then picketed another judge’s home for 30 minutes. , where the crowd grew to 100, and eventually returned to the home of the first judge to picket for another 20 minutes,” Curley wrote in his letter to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. type of conduct prohibited by the laws of Maryland and Montgomery County.”

In her letter to Jeffrey McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, she said a recent protest outside the home of an unspecified judge involved dozens of people chanting “no privacy for us, no peace for you!”

Police barriers are seen outside the Supreme Court in Washington, July 1, 2022.

Curley’s letters were dated Friday and shared with reporters by a Supreme Court spokesperson on Saturday.

Curley’s request came about a month after a California man was found with a gun, knife and pepper spray near the home of Maryland Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after telling police that he planned to kill the judge. The man, Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, has been charged with attempting to murder a United States judge and has pleaded not guilty.

Both Youngkin and Hogan, both Republicans, have previously expressed concerns about the protests. In May, they sent a joint letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting federal law enforcement resources to keep judges safe and enforce a federal law they say prohibits picketing with intent to influence. a judge.

Hogan’s spokesman, Michael Ricci, said in a statement Saturday that the governor had ordered state police to “further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.” He also said that “if the Marshal had taken the time to explore the matter,” she would have learned that the constitutionality of the Maryland law she cited has been challenged by the Attorney General’s office. State.

Elrich said he had no record of receiving the letter addressed to him and wondered why it was released to the press. He said he would look into it and was willing to discuss it with Curley, but defended the work Montgomery County police have done so far.

“In Montgomery County, we follow the law that provides safety and respects the rights of First Amendment protesters. That’s what we do, no matter what the protests are about,” he said.

Youngkin’s spokesman, Christian Martinez, said the Virginia governor welcomed the marshal’s request and said Youngkin had made the same request to McKay in recent weeks.

“The Governor remains in regular contact with the judges themselves and considers their safety a top priority. He is in contact with state and local authorities at the Marshal’s request for assistance and will continue to engage on the issue of security of justice,” Martinez said. said.

In May, Youngkin lobbied for a security perimeter around the homes of judges living in Fairfax County, but McKay denied the request, saying it would violate First Amendment protest rights. Youngkin also attempted to create a new criminal penalty for certain actions during protests targeting judges or other court officers, which state lawmakers rejected.

A McKay spokesperson said it was working on a response to the letter.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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