The debate over protests at justices’ homes is just one of the murky political fault lines emerging from the disclosure of a draft majority opinion last week. While Republicans have denounced the protests as illegal, Democrats have been in a challenging spot — from some lawmakers pointing to past demonstrations at their own private residences to White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggesting the protests were OK as long as they were peaceful.
“I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date — and we certainly continue to encourage that — outside of judges’ homes. And that’s the president’s position,” Psaki said on Tuesday.
From Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the chorus of GOP lawmakers condemning Democrats and the White House has grown louder this week. Republicans contend that Democrats are encouraging illegal activity as demonstrators gather outside of the homes of Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Youngkin in particular faced backlash from members of his own party on Tuesday, when conservatives called on the new Republican governor to do more after tweeting that state police were “closely monitoring” the protests.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on Senate Judiciary Committee, sent his own letter to Garland on Wednesday, requesting the department “prioritize the protection” of the justices.
“The President may choose to characterize protests, riots, and incitements of violence as mere passion,” Grassley wrote. “But these attempts to influence and intimidate members of the federal judiciary are an affront to judicial independence. No fair-minded person can question that ‘such conduct inherently threatens the judicial process.’”
Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said Wednesday afternoon that Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters” related to the court and justices.
Another element of the fallout continued on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when the Senate once again failed to advance abortion rights legislation in a 49-51 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and all Republicans voted against the largely symbolic attempt to codify the rights.