While White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has called protests at Supreme Court justices’ homes exercises of freedom of expression, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced those actions as attempts to intimidate.
“Trying to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is far outside the bounds of First Amendment speech or protest,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.
“It is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs.”
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Hundreds outside Alito’s house right now in suburban Virginia pic.twitter.com/zy5rgWYVMW— jasoncherkis (@jasoncherkis) May 10, 2022
Psaki was asked Monday about whether the White House truly supported protests at justices’ homes, and she said only that the White House does not condone protesters breaking any laws.
But McConnell and others are noting there are already laws on the books against protests intended to influence a decision.
“It appears this may possibly be flat-out illegal,” McConnell continued. “There is a federal law on the books that criminalizes quote, ‘pickets or parades’ end quote, with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer at locations — listen to this — that included a judge’s residence.”
BREAKING: A large group of pro-abortion protesters have arrived at Justice Samuel Alito’s house in northern VA pic.twitter.com/4Kuo7tPONw— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 10, 2022
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also praised the protesters’ expression of “righteous anger” in a letter to House Democrats on Monday.
Psaki did denounced threats or violence against judges in a tweet Monday, but it did not address the potential criminality of “pickets or parades” over the weekend at the residences of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“@POTUS strongly believes in the constitutional right to protest,” Psaki tweeted Monday morning before her daily press conference. “But that should never 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.”