Protestors from leftist groups gathered outside the residence of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday, January 22, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case. Despite the inclement weather, around 20 activists, organized by the group “Our Rights DC,” marched and sang slogans in support of pro-choice while carrying rainbow-colored umbrellas.
As the protesters carried out their demonstration, U.S. Marshals, who are responsible for protecting federal courts, were stationed on Kavanaugh’s property. However, they did not intervene as the protesters were on the sidewalk and thus not violating any law. Some marshals also expressed concern that arresting the activists could lead to more protests and civil unrest in the area, similar to the riots that occurred in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
The protesters carried signs and umbrellas with slogans such as “Cut his time short, a rapist should not rule the court,” “Freedom of religion means freedom from yours,” and “No privacy for us, no peace for you.” They sang and chanted as they marched up and down the sidewalk in front of Kavanaugh’s home.
The Daily Signal, a news outlet of The Heritage Foundation, asked the Marshals why they allowed the protesters to continue their demonstrations when 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” (both Maryland and Virginia law also prohibit picketing to disrupt or threaten to disrupt that individual’s “tranquility in his home”).
Several of the Marshals, who did not share their names, told The Daily Signal that the activists were not on Kavanaugh’s property, merely the sidewalk, and thus were not violating the code. 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.
The Marshals also speculated that the pro-abortion protesters hoped to gain attention and notoriety by being arrested — another Marshal suggested that the protestors would enjoy being “martyrs.”
The unprecedented leak of the draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned sparked protests throughout the country, attacks on scores of pro-life centers and faith-based institutions nationwide, and even an assassination attempt against Kavanaugh. Justice Samuel Alito said that the leak made the justices “targets for assassination.”
“It was a shock because nothing like that had happened in the past,” Alito said of the leak in October. “So it certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term.”
“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,” he added during remarks at The Heritage Foundation.
One of the protesters who leads groups to the justices’ homes, Nikki Enfield, was arrested for disrupting Supreme Court oral arguments in November. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Enfield and her two fellow protesters on Jan. 13 to unsupervised probation until June 30 of this year. The judge also barred the women from the Supreme Court grounds.
Overall, the demonstration was peaceful and no incidents were reported. The protesters dispersed after a few hours of march and singing slogans. The Supreme Court Justice BrettKavanaugh did not make any public statements regarding the demonstration outside of his home, but it is clear that the issue of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing debate surrounding reproductive rights continue to be a contentious and polarizing topic in the United States. As protests and demonstrations continue, it remains to be seen how the courts and authorities will handle such actions in the future.
Article based off reporting by The Daily Signal.