White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended protests outside the suburban homes of conservative Supreme Court justices as “peaceful to date” — despite the fact that more of the potentially illegal rallies are planned Wednesday to pressure the judges to abandon a draft anti-abortion rights ruling.
“The president’s longstanding view has been that violent threats and intimidation of any kind have no place in political discourse. And we believe of course in peaceful protests,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing.
“So I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date,” Psaki later added. “And we certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges’ homes and that’s the president’s position.”
Psaki also wagged a finger at Republicans, saying the GOP voices calling out demonstrators were silent “for years on protests that have happened outside the homes of school board members” and outside the home of the Michigan secretary of state. She also invoked last year’s Capitol riot.
“The silence is pretty deafening about all the other intimidation that we’ve seen to a number of people,” the press secretary said.
But while Psaki kept repeating the lack of violence thus far at the various demonstrations held outside the homes of Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, their legality has more to do with pressuring sitting judges to sway their opinions.
One section of federal law — 18 U.S.C. 1507 – states that anyone who has 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” and pickets or parades in or near a court building or residence “occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness or court officer” will face a fine or imprisonment of one year.
The law also applies to a person who uses sound trucks or similar devices “or resorts to any other demonstration in or near such building or residence.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice have not publicly commented on the matter and did not respond to The Post’s inquiry on whether it is monitoring these recent demonstrations and whether the Department considers them to be in violation of the law.
Meanwhile, several potentially large protests are scheduled for later this week – including “walk-bys” outside the homes of all six conservative justices hosted by the pro-abortion organization Ruth Sent Us on Wednesday.
In the past two years, large political rallies in DC frequently devolved into mayhem. Anti-police protests in 2020 morphed into nights of citywide destruction, including an attempt to torch the headquarters of the AFL-CIO union for representing police. In 2021, a crowd of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, attacking police and journalists and vandalizing the historic building to halt certification of President Biden’s election victory.
Authorities in DC put up tall anti-riot fencing outside the Supreme Court following the unprecedented leak of the draft abortion ruling, which would allow states to set their own policies on abortion after a half-century of federally guaranteed access to the procedure.
Alito, the author of the draft ruling, reportedly is in hiding with his family. It’s unclear if other justices remain at home.
DC-area activists have targeted private homes in the past. Left-wing protesters in 2018 broke the front door to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s house and allegedly were recorded discussing a pipe bomb.
The potential status change in abortion rights unleashed indignation from thousands of protesters across the country, as well as from Democrats and some centrist Republicans in Congress.
The abortion debate resulted in violence previously, including the murders of health care workers.
The protests come in response to a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked last week that indicated the court intends to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
On Monday, Psaki reiterated on Twitter that the White House is not in support of any protests that include violence, threats or vandalism.
“Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety,” she wrote.
So far, the White House has not discouraged protesters from traveling to the justices’ homes.