On May 2, 2022, someone leaked the draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned. The Dobbs leak spurred illegal protesting intended to influence the justices, attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers, and even an assassination attempt against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The leaker has yet to be identified. Justice Samuel Alito said that he believes he knows who the leaker is, but there is not enough evidence to solidly identify him or her.
During remarks delivered (virtually) to law students at George Mason University, Alito said the leak “created an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.” Security concerns prevented him from speaking in person.
“We worked through it, and last year we got our work done,” Alito said. “This year, I think, we’re trying to get back to normal operations as much as we can … . But it was damaging.”
“It was a part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft … from becoming the decision of the court,” he said. “And that’s how it was used for those six weeks by people on the outside—as part of the campaign to try to intimidate the court.”
Extremist Groups Post Justices’ Addresses
Shortly after the Dobbs leak, the radical pro-abortion group Ruth Sent Us began urging protesters to go to the homes of the “six extremist justices, three in Virginia and three in Maryland.” Those justices were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch.
“If you’d like to join or lead a peaceful protest, let us know,” Ruth Sent Us said. “Our 6-3 extremist Supreme Court routinely issues rulings that hurt women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights. We must rise up to force accountability using a diversity of tactics.”
ShutDownDC, a leftist protest group that has protested at the family homes of Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and commentator Tucker Carlson, also called for protesting at the justices’ houses and offered bounties for sightings of the justices.
Far-left protesters Our Rights DC and Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights joined these groups in targeting the justices’ homes, even though 18 U.S. Code 1507 forbids picketing or parading “in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer” with the intent of intimidating or influencing that person.
Protesters included individuals like Sadie Kuhns, Melissa Barlow, Nikki Enfield, and Nadine Seiler.
Daily Signal reporters on the ground captured videos showing protesters shouting curse words and slurs, singing, chanting, and yelling into megaphones in the justices’ suburban neighborhoods.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has since admitted that it is a federal crime to protest outside a judge’s home with the intent of influencing that judge, but he has not enforced that law, though both Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requested that he do so. Garland also claimed in March that the U.S. marshals “on scene” make the decision “whether to make an arrest.”
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 were doing the bidding of the Justice Department.
Attacks on Catholic Churches and Pregnancy Centers
As of May 2, there have been at least 85 attacks on pregnancy resource centers and 152 attacks on Catholic churches since the May 2022 Dobbs leak. Many of these buildings have been vandalized with threats such as, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” making the attacks incidents of suspected pro-abortion violence.
And the extremist group Jane’s Revenge has taken credit for many of these vandalisms and attacks.
“We have demonstrated in the past month how easy and fun it is to attack,” Jane’s Revenge declared in a “communique” missive in mid-June last year amid firebombings. “We are versatile, we are mercurial, and we answer to no one but ourselves. We promised to take increasingly drastic measures against oppressive infrastructures. Rest assured that we will, and those measures may not come in the form of something so easily cleaned up as fire and graffiti.”
“It’s open season,” the militant group promised pro-lifers, “and we know where your operations are.”
GOP lawmakers called for members of Jane’s Revenge to be designated as domestic terrorists “in response to their clear involvement in acts dangerous to human life.”
“These violent acts violate U.S. and state law, and the group itself has claimed intent to intimidate civilians and government officials,” the lawmakers told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. “You must use the full extent of your powers under the law to fully prosecute these criminals and prevent further crime.”
The DOJ did not designate Jane’s Revenge a terrorist group. The FBI did say at the time that it was “investigating a series of attacks and threats targeting pregnancy resource centers and faith-based organizations across the country.”
Pregnancy resource centers are typically run by pro-life women who seek to offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion. Such centers provide diapers, baby clothes, and resources for both mothers and fathers, empowering them to care for their children, overcome addictions, build community, and find jobs.
Attempted Assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh
Shortly after far-left groups began calling for protests at the justices’ homes in early May, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board expressed concerns that an “abortion fanatic” might “commit an act of violence” in an effort to subvert the court’s expected decision.
“One question is how fast the Court should now move to publish its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” the editors wrote. “There’s an argument for getting it out fast to make it a fait accompli.”
“Politico said the Alito draft was circulated in February, so the Justices have had ample time to absorb it and respond,” the editors continued. “We hate to say this, but some abortion fanatic could decide to commit an act of violence to stop a 5-4 ruling. It’s an awful thought, but we live in fanatical times.”
They were right.
On June 8, 2022, after weeks of angry protesting and the posting of the justices’ addresses online, authorities arrested 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske of Simi Valley, California, near Kavanaugh’s home.
A DOJ affidavit describes that Roske traveled to Kavanaugh’s home armed with weapons and burglary tools to kill him and stop him from ruling on both abortion and Second Amendment cases.
“On June 8, 2022, at approximately 1:05 a.m., two United States deputy marshals saw an individual dressed in black clothing and carrying a backpack and a suitcase, get out of a taxicab that had stopped in front of the Montgomery County, Maryland, residence of a current justice of the United States Supreme Court,” the affidavit said.
Roske looked at the two marshals standing by their parked cars, then walked down the street. Shortly after, the Montgomery County Emergency Communications Center received a call from Roske, who said he was having suicidal thoughts, had a gun, and had traveled from California to kill “a specific United States Supreme Court justice.”
Officers dispatched to the justice’s home took Roske into custody “without incident” as he was on the phone with Montgomery County Emergency Communications Center.
The affidavit notes: “An inventory search of the seized suitcase and backpack revealed a black tactical chest rig and tactical knife, a Glock 17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, paper spray, zip ties, a hammer, screwdriver, nail punch, crow bar, pistol light, duct tape, hiking boots with padding on the outside of the soles, and other items.”
Roske specifically said he was inspired to kill Kavanaugh after seeing his address posted on the internet.
“Roske stated that he began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill the Supreme Court justice after finding the Justice’s Montgomery County address on the Internet,” the affidavit said. “Roske further indicated that he had purchased the Glock pistol and other items for the purpose of breaking into the justice’s residence and killing the justice as well as himself.”
Roske was charged with attempting to murder Kavanaugh. He plead not guilty in June 2022.
DOJ Targets Pro-Life Activists With FACE Act
Despite the growing number of ideological attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches, the DOJ has only prosecuted a few of these incidents.
Asked in late April how many pro-abortion attacks the DOJ is currently prosecuting under the FACE Act, spokeswoman Aryele Bradford pointed to only the four radical individuals charged in Florida.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.” The FACE Act has typically been used to prosecute those accused of attacking abortion clinics, but its language also protects pro-life organizations.
In 2022 alone, the DOJ Civil Rights Division charged 26 pro-life individuals with FACE Act violations. One of these individuals was Mark Houck, a Catholic father of seven arrested by the FBI at gunpoint, in front of his sobbing children.
The FBI’s FACE Act charges against Houck stemmed from a 2021 incident outside a Philadelphia-based Planned Parenthood where Houck pushed an abortion clinic volunteer who was repeatedly harassing his son (Mark Jr.). Local authorities ultimately dismissed the matter—until the Biden DOJ re-upped it in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Houck and his wife, Ryan-Marie, told The Daily Signal that President Joe Biden’s DOJ targeted them in an effort to intimidate, silence, and scare the family for their pro-life work—praying outside abortion clinics for the women headed inside to abort their unborn babies.
According to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the DOJ had been targeting pro-life activists with the FACE Act as a response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
During remarks at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s 65th Anniversary in December, the associate attorney general described the overturn of Roe v. Wade as a “devastating blow to women throughout the country” that took away “the constitutional right to abortion” and increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s work—including the “enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
DOJ Minimizes Threat of Violence
Department of Justice officials appeared to minimize the threat of leftist violence as they prepared for the “Night of Rage” the night that Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to an email obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of the Heritage Foundation)
The email shows James Dunlap, former director of Security and Emergency Preparing Staff at the Department of Justice, updating personnel on the “Night of Rage” pushed by Jane’s Revenge.
“This is to advise personnel that law enforcement continues to monitor protest and counterprotest activity taking place as a result of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” the email said.
“Some groups being monitored have declared a ‘night of rage’ and are linked to incidents involving arson and vandalism that have occurred in many regions including the DC metro area over the last few weeks,” the email continued, before emphasizing that “there is no direct threat to any DOJ facilities, and protest activity continues to focus around the area surrounding the Supreme Court. Employees should remain vigilant.”
Notably, Dunlap’s email does not mention Jane’s Revenge by name, nor does it mention that the groups perpetrating “arson and vandalism” are leftist, pro-abortion groups, despite the fact that lawmakers had called upon the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to designate members of Jane’s Revenge as terrorists, and despite the fact that even the White House had condemned Jane’s Revenge’s threats of violence.
The email also does not mention that the acts of arson and vandalism it references are pro-abortion-motivated crimes perpetrated against pro-life groups and facilities. Dunlap merely referred to “some groups” without identifying what their motivations are.
The DOJ did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment on this email.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.