Attorney General Merrick Garland told Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that he does not know whether the Department of Justice has brought any charges against protesters under the law banning “picketing or parading” outside a courthouse or judge’s home with the intent to interfere with a case.
Lee asked Garland about the protests during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
“We’ve had protesters who have been showing up at the homes of Supreme Court justices, carrying signs, picketing, shouting. It’s very clear that they’re trying to influence, in one way or another, those serving on the United States Supreme Court, trying to influence jurisprudence. And yet not one person, to my knowledge, has been prosecuted for such things under 18 USC section 1507,” Lee noted.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Garland stated.
After the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade last May, pro-abortion protesters started targeting the homes of Supreme Court justices, arguably attempting to intimidate them into preserving the 1973 abortion precedent. In one case, a man targeted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his family, but he turned himself in before carrying out any acts of violence.
The statute Lee cited 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.
While Garland said he did not know the answer to Lee’s question, he argued that “the thing that mattered, and as soon as the Dobbs draft leaked, I ordered the marshals to do something that the United States Marshals had never in history done before, which was protect the justices’ homes, residences, and lives 24-7.”
“That’s fantastic,” Lee responded.
Garland said he sent “more than 70 U.S. Marshals” for this purpose. “That is why, when someone did come to assault Justice Kavanaugh, he had to go away from where they were, because there were two marshals in front of the house,” he added.
The attorney general mentioned that the marshals “have full authority” to arrest people for violating the statute against picketing and parading.
“When you show up at the home of a public official, you’re sending the message of implicit violence,” Lee said. “You’re sending the message, ‘We know where you sleep. We know where you and your family are most vulnerable.’”
According to an FBI report uncovered by The Daily Signal, the FBI head office alerted FBI field offices, Virginia State Police, and possibly other police departments, highlighting news articles about the protesters. Yet it remains unclear whether the FBI has taken any action against the protesters.
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