FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project is suing the Justice Department for communications related to the department’s failure to apply federal law against far-left protests at the Supreme Court Justices’ homes.
The suit follows Attorney General Merrick Garland’s admission that it is a federal crime (under 18 U.S.C. § 1507) to protest outside a judge’s home with the intent of influencing that judge. Garland has not enforced that law, though both Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requested that he do so, and in March, Garland claimed that the U.S. Marshals “on scene” make the decision “whether to make an arrest.”
Since June 17, 2022, the Oversight Project has filed multiple FOIA requests seeking records related to the enforcement of 18 U.S.C. § 1507 and protests at Supreme Court justices’ private residences. When the DOJ did not properly acknowledge these requests or provide the requested information, Heritage’s Oversight Project filed a lawsuit seeking judicial relief. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“Attorney General Garland told the Senate that the decision to allow violations of 1507 to continue was made by the U.S. Marshals,” Mike Howell, director of the Oversight Project, told The Daily Signal. “I don’t think that is true, and if it was, then why are they unlawfully withholding the records from us?”
Oversight’s requests include all records related to “18 U.S.C. § 1507 and protests, picketing, parades, demonstrations, occupations, sit-ins, or any other form of protest at the residences of the Chief Justice of the United States or the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
In January, The Daily Signal spoke with several U.S. Marshals who said that the activists are not breaking the law since they were not on the justices’ property, merely the sidewalk. The Daily Signal pointed out that the language of the code specifically says “in or near,” but the Marshals still said that the activists were within the law since they were on the sidewalk.
The authorities also repeatedly mentioned the First Amendment and free speech and said that the activists had the right to demonstrate as long as they were within the law.
Legal and judicial experts told The Daily Signal that since the Marshals report to the attorney general, they are doing the bidding of the Justice Department.
These groups of far-left activists, which include individuals such as Sadie Kuhns, Melissa Barlow, Nikki Enfield, and Nadine Seiler, have been protesting at the homes of the Supreme Court justices since the May leak of the draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned.
That unprecedented leak, which sparked protests throughout the country, attacks on scores of pro-life centers and faith-based institutions nationwide, and even an assassination attempt against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made the justices “targets for assassination,” according to Justice Samuel Alito.
“It was a shock because nothing like that had happened in the past,” Alito said of the leak in October during remarks at The Heritage Foundation. “So it certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term.”
He added: “The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority, in support of overruling Roe and Casey, targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us.”
In early March, the Supreme Court asked Congress to increase funding to help protect the justices: the court’s budget request asks for $5,897,000 for the “expansion of protective activities” and a separate increase of $585,000 for new IT security positions in “cybersecurity, software development, and network engineering.”
“This request would expand security activities conducted by Supreme Court Police to protect the Justices,” the protective activities request says, before specifically citing the presence of threats to the justices.
“On-going threat assessments show evolving risks that require continuous protection,” the request continues. “Additional funding would provide for contract positions, eventually transitioning to full-time employees, that will augment capabilities of the Supreme Court police force and allow it to accomplish its protective mission.”
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