Protests Continue at Homes of Supreme Court Justices After Roe Opinion Breach

From a story on by Nancy Vu headlined “Alito’s home draws latest abortion-rights demonstration after Roe opinion breach”:

About 100 protesters marched to Justice Samuel Alito’s home in Alexandria, Va., on Monday night as tension over abortion rights continues to simmer in the wake of the breached draft opinion showing a majority of the Supreme Court prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The peaceful grassroots demonstration makes Alito the third justice to see protests at their private residence after the breach of the draft opinion last week. Protests over the weekend at the homes of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts sparked criticism from conservatives who argued that the abortion-rights groups behind the moves had crossed a line by pressuring Supreme Court jurists in their private spaces.

It’s unclear if Alito, the author of the draft opinion published by POLITICO, was home during the abortion-rights vigil on Monday night. Demonstrators held signs aloft that read “Repro Freedom for All,” and lit candles in front of the home’s driveway, chanting slogans such as “Our body, our rights, our right to decide!” and “Abort the court!”

With Republican lawmakers divided on whether to pursue a national abortion barrier in the wake of a likely Roe overturn as soon as next month and Senate Democrats poised to fall short in their latest abortion-rights push this week, attendees were prepared to look beyond Congress.

“I would hope it motivates people to the polls,” 22-year-old student Heather-Ann Irons said on the sidelines of the protest. But, she added: “I think what’s more important is building community and increasing grassroots funds for people who actually need access to abortion. There’s only so much you can do with voting.”

Amid conservative fury kicked up by the protests at Kavanaugh’s and Roberts’ homes, the Senate unanimously approved legislation on Monday night that would bolster security for the high court’s justices. Before the Monday night protest, Alito canceled a planned appearance in Nashville, Tenn., and unconfirmed reports circulated on conservative media suggested he may have gone into hiding.

And White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement underscoring President Joe Biden’s support for protests that “never resort to violence, to threats, to intimidation in any way, shape, or form.”

Abortion-rights demonstrations will continue on Saturday, as more than 30 progressive advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March plan to hold a nationwide day of protest.

Also see the Washington Post editorial headlined “Leave the justices alone at home.” The opening grafs:

The right to assemble and speak freely is essential to democracy. Erasing any distinction between the public square and private life is essential to totalitarianism. It is crucial, therefore, to protect robust demonstrations of political dissent while preventing them from turning into harassment or intimidation. An issue that illuminates this imperative in sharp relief is residential picketing — protests against the actions or decisions of public officials at their homes, such as the recent noisy abortion rights demonstrations at the Montgomery County dwellings of Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. The disruptors wanted to voice opposition to a possible overruling of Roe v. Wade, as foreshadowed by a leaked majority draft opinion last week. What they mainly succeeded in doing was to illustrate that their goal — with which we broadly agree — does not justify their tactics.

The protests are part of a disturbing trend in which groups descend on the homes of people they disagree with and attempt to influence their public conduct by making their private lives — and, often, those of their families and neighbors — miserable. Those targeted in recent years include not just the conservative justices but also Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.); Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) of Portland, Ore.; and exiled Chinese dissident Teng Biao. To be sure, such tactics have a longer history: One of the ugliest manifestations was the antiabortion movement’s widespread deployment of pickets at the homes of abortion providers. What begins as peaceful protests can degenerate into violence: The oft-picketed author of Roe itself, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, was startled one evening in 1985 by the sound of a bullet shattering his Arlington apartment’s window.

To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary….


Speak Your Mind