Protesting at Officials’ Homes

Is harassing judges, mayors, Senators, and the like in their private lives just free speech?

Since news leaked of the Supreme Court’s coming repeal of Roe v Wade, protesters have gathered outside the suburban Maryland homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Official reaction has been swift.

WSJ (“Senate Passes Bill to Protect Supreme Court Justices’ Families“):

The Senate swiftly passed a bill to expand police protections for Supreme Court justices to include their immediate family members, in the wake of protests following a leaked draft ruling that indicated the court could overturn Roe v. Wade.

The measure passed late Monday by unanimous consent. The broad support in the Senate suggests a clear pathway to passage in the House, but no immediate plan was set.

[…]

The Supreme Court is currently surrounded by security fencing to guard against potential threats. Over the weekend, some protesters demonstrated outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in suburban Chevy Chase, Md.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) accused progressives of trying to harass justices at their homes in order to achieve a desired judicial outcome, saying they were trying to “replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs.” He also said the White House had been slow to condemn such protests.

At the daily White House briefing Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki said protesters “should never resort to violence, to threats, to intimidation in any way, shape, or form.”

The Washington Post editorial board implored “Leave the justices alone at home.”

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. Critics of reversing Roe maintain, defensibly, that to overturn such a long-standing precedent would itself violate core judicial principles. Yet if basic social consensus and the rule of law are to be sustained — and if protesters wish to maximize their own persuasiveness — demonstrations against even what many might regard as illegitimate rulings must respect the rights of others. And they must be lawful.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday on Twitter that President Biden abhors “violence, threats, or vandalism,” and that judges “must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.” This was a welcome clarification of the noncommittal statement Ms. Psaki made Friday. 

It’s not just a matter of etiquette; it’s apparently actually illegal:

A Montgomery County ordinance permits protest marches in residential areas but bars stationary gatherings, arguably such as those in front of the Roberts and Kavanaugh residences. A federal law — 18 U.S.C. Section 1507 — prohibits “pickets or parades” at any judge’s residence, “with the intent of influencing” a jurist “in the discharge of his duty.” These are limited and justifiable restraints on where and how people exercise the right to assembly. Citizens should voluntarily abide by them, in letter and spirit. If not, the relevant governments should take appropriate action.

While I’m skeptical that the federal law in question passes 1st Amendment muster—restrictions based on political motive are highly suspect—a ban in residential areas aimed at keeping down noise and congestion likely would.

The issue is not a new one and there seems to be widespread consensus that officials should not be subject to harassment in their private lives. Indeed, it’s hard to find well-conceived arguments to the contrary.

Reason‘s Robby Soave gives it a half-hearted try:

The street and sidewalk are public spaces, and it’s legally permissible to protest there. The First Amendment rightly protects Americans whose displeasure with their government’s policies compels them to engage in free expression—even if the form that expression takes is hostile and unpleasant. The Bill of Rights enshrines the people’s right to protest; there is no right enjoyed by government actors to avoid witnessing protests.

Needless to say, that is separate from the question of whether such tactics are wise or worthwhile. 

That’s his argument in its entirety.

Vogue culture writer Emma Specter is more enthusiastic in “Inconveniencing Brett Kavanaugh Right Now Is Good, Actually.”

I’m not condoning trespassing or any other illegal activity, but are we really criticizing pro-choice activists for having the audacity to show up at the homes of Supreme Court justices, when those same Supreme Court justices seem to feel perfectly comfortable making their presence known in our bedrooms, our marriages, and our doctor’s offices? What constitutes Kavanaugh’s right to privacy when he has all but deemed my right to a safe, easily accessible, and yes, private medical procedure illegal?

Protesting at a public figure’s family home isn’t without its collateral damage, and while I do feel bad for Kavanaugh’s children (we don’t choose our parents, after all), I also feel bad for Rosie Jimenez‘s daughter, who was left without a mother when Jimenez died from an unsafe abortion in 1977, after the Hyde Amendment cut off Medicaid funding for safe medically-supervised abortions. I feel bad for the children of the woman known only as ‘Manuela‘, who have to live with the knowledge that their mother was handcuffed to a hospital bed in El Salvador after a miscarriage. I feel bad for all the people who know and love Lizelle Herrera, arrested just last month in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley for “causing the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.” When you stack a peaceful protest in a Maryland suburb against all that human suffering, the contrast feels stark.

If you’re concerned about the effect that these protests would have on Kavanaugh’s neighbors, allow me to put your mind at ease. They’re the ones who organized the protest, driving home the point that the right to abortion isn’t theoretical or being questioned in some faraway place; abortion rights intimately affect the lives of your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers, and the people you build your life with. To take them away is to tell those very same people that your interpretation of the law matters more than their lived experience.

Of course, some are chiming in with calls for civility. (It’s worth noting that the protests were entirely peaceful, without any trespassing or destruction of property.) But it feels ironic that, to many, maintaining politeness supersedes the freedom of expression of a group of people having their right to autonomy over their own bodies forcibly taken from them. If Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 2018, didn’t enjoy the privilege of being unbothered in her home after going public with her story, why should he? For that matter, if people seeking abortions are regularly harassed and threatened on their way into clinics to obtain often lifesaving care, why shouldn’t the Supreme Court justices who choose to make their experiences even more difficult expect some minor level of inconvenience to their day?

Ultimately, the point of political protest isn’t to blend seamlessly into the background, or to take place at a convenient hour. The point is to disrupt the status quo—and that’s exactly what the pro-choice activists outside Kavanaugh’s house are doing. “I was known as the angriest man in the world, mainly because I discovered that anger got you further than being nice,” the late AIDS activist Larry Kramer was once quoted as saying, and he was (as ever) right—if there was ever a time for “nice” expression of dissent, it’s in the rearview mirror now. As the posters at the protests say, respect existence or expect resistance. Just don’t be surprised when that resistance makes your day-to-day life more difficult; that’s what it’s supposed to do, after all.

While emotionally powerful, these appeals are intellectually thin.

First, no, “his neighbors” didn’t organize the protest in front of Kavanaugh’s house. One particular neighbor, Lacie Wooten-Holway, did. And, indeed, the very story Specter links notes that other neighbors resent the intrusion into their private space.

The main argument seems to be that two wrongs actually do make a right. But Kavanaugh was 12 in 1977. The US Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over El Salvador. The Texas anti-abortion law is extreme but Kavanaugh didn’t pass it. And harassing Blasey Ford at her home was shameful, not a model that should be expanded upon.

The secondary argument—that protests are supposed to be inconvenient—is more compelling. But it’s one thing to inconvenience Justices or Members of Congress as they try to get to their office or have to listen to chanting through megaphones while doing their job. Or even inconveniencing would-be patrons of a business being picketed by striking employees. It’s another thing indeed to harass the children and neighbors of officials in their homes.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Democracy, Law and the Courts, Society, Supreme Court, US Constitution, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Crusty Dem says:

    Aren’t these are the same justices that declared that a 35’ buffer zone for abortion clinic protestors an unconstitutional violation of free speech, so women receiving any form of medical care at abortion clinics had to run through a gauntlet of protestors?

    That’s a damn shame.

    36
  2. drj says:

    In 2014, SCOTUS ruled that a Massachusetts law establishing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics intended to prevent protestors from confronting patients violated the First Amendment and therefore was unconstitutional.

    It seems to me that SCOTUS made its bed and now must lie in it.

    Of course, Kavanaugh c.s. could always hire security or rely on escorts to escape the worst of the protestors’ harassment.

    22
  3. Kevin says:

    Most of me wants to agree with calls for decorum, especially at people’s homes. But part of the problem is that the venues for public protest keep getting restricted. You can’t protest outside the Supreme Court. The Secret Service and local police establish “free speech zones” far away from the actual politicians and delegates at any serious political event. When they’re barred from the public square, where are people supposed to go?

    I see parallels here between this and gerrymandering, and Clarence Thomas’ statements about how the Supreme Court’s decisions need to be respected, while he refuses to recuse himself from a case involving his wife. These are all statements by the powerful, saying they deserve respect, while taking actions that a majority of people disagree with, and will make a lot of people’s lives substantially worse. I’m all for decorum and propriety, but the respect has to go both ways.

    26
  4. Barry says:

    Since the GOP’s position is that Jan 6 was a First Amendment activity, I don’s see what the SCOTUS justice can complain about.

    16
  5. James Joyner says:

    @Crusty Dem: @drj: My recollection is that the ruling there was very narrow. It’s not that a 35-foot buffer zone around protests was unconstitutional but that applying it only to those protesting abortion was. Had the law been blanket—applying to, say, union pickets as well—it would surely have passed muster.

    @Kevin: A handful of people who are motivated to camp out outside of a Justice’s home tells us zero about what people actually want.

    3
  6. Kathy says:

    I don’t know. these justices are doing something far worse than harassing women and their doctors in a setting more private than the outside of a home.

    17
  7. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s not that a 35-foot buffer zone around protests was unconstitutional but that applying it only to those protesting abortion was.

    The people outside of Kavanaugh’s house also only protested abortion rules. So?

    Regardless, your argument doesn’t work.

    Roberts writing for the majority:

    It is true, of course, that by limiting the buffer zones to abortion clinics, the Act has the “inevitable effect” of restricting abortion-related speech more than speech on other subjects. […] But a facially neutral law does not become content based simply be- cause it may disproportionately affect speech on certain topics.

    However:

    For a content-neutral time, place, or manner regulation to be narrowly tailored, it must not “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.” […]

    The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests […] ensuring public safety outside abortion clinics, preventing harassment and intimidation of patients and clinic staff, and combating deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances.

    Thus, SCOTUS ruled that “ensuring public safety, preventing harassment and intimidation, and combating deliberate obstruction” was insufficient reason to limit the right to protest, even within a 35-foot radius.

    Well, OK then.

    20
  8. Gustopher says:

    Abortion clinic workers are harassed and picketed at their homes.

    If there is a consensus to pass a law and enforce it evenly, then sure, we can give people a space away from protesters. But, when it’s only a bad thing when powerful Republicans are being protested? Nah.

    Meanwhile, Susan Collins called the police because someone wrote a surprisingly police pro-choice message on the sidewalk near her house.

    https://bangordailynews.com/2022/05/09/news/bangor/pro-abortion-chalk-message-appears-on-susan-collins-bangor-sidewalk/

    14
  9. James Joyner says:

    @drj: I don’t want to get into the weeds of an 8-year old SCOTUS ruling that’s tangential to the topic at hand but this NPR report does a good job of framing it. Roberts argued that all matter of other protections were permissible.

    1
  10. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    Roberts argued that all matter of other protections were permissible.

    From your link:

    Roberts said that as an alternative approach, Massachusetts could consider an ordinance such as one adopted in New York City that “makes it a crime ‘to follow and harass another person within 15 feet of the premises of a reproductive health care facility.’ ”

    The state could also adopt a law that makes it illegal to attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with anyone because they’re either coming from or heading toward a health clinic, he said.

    Thus, as long as these protestors outside SCOTUS judges’ homes do not “follow and harass within 15 feet of the premises” or “attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere” it should be all good.

    I don’t think these protestors did any of these things. Therefore these snowflakes on SCOTUS should just suck it up. You know, like real Americans would.

    17
  11. I suspect a rule prohibiting demonstrations in residential areas will be very difficult in practice – imagine only a city with no zoning, and then without well defined residential, commercial and business areas.

    2
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: James, you are picking nits and bending over backwards here. Because of Supreme Court rulings, during the years my wife worked at a Planned Parenthood facility she had to walk through a gauntlet of protesters more days than not. They had to hire extra security. I worried every single day that by letting these harassers get in the faces all who worked there or who got their services there, the Supremes had created a situation that would end with me getting a phone call and having to explain to our two little children that mommy was never coming home.

    You can engage in all kinds of special pleading about how this is different somehow, but to my ears it’s just so much BS.

    22
  13. drj says:

    All this is a perfect illustration of this quote, by the way:

    Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

    There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

    Everyone whining about the civility of protesting outside the home of a SCOTUS judge is simply upset that there are other people pissed enough to no longer care about this hypocrisy.

    Smallest violin, etc.

    21
  14. SKI says:

    Seem a like a clear exercise of the First Amendment right to “peaceably … assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

    A SCOTUS Justice is definitively a Government official. There is no qualification of that right to not do it at their homes – such a qualification would be nonsensical at the time of the drafting.

    Give them Security? Sure. Prevent the protests? Not a chance.

    On a macro level, it sure seems like those with privilege don’t like suffering from the same pinpricks they are sanguine about when others suffer from them.

    20
  15. Bob@Youngstown says:

    I suspect that most of the protesters believe that this pending decision is political determination dressed up to appear as a legal determination independent of political manipulation.

    There is significant evidence to justify their suspicions.

    The argument that protestors should lay off because they are applying political pressure to an independent (aka non-politicized) agency is laughable.

    11
  16. DK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You can engage in all kinds of special pleading about how this is different somehow, but to my ears it’s just so much BS.

    The tortured and desperate nitpicking to rationalize a gross double-standard is obvious BS, yes.

    But it is also different. Distributing flyers and holding candlelight vigils on sidewalks near conservative justices’ homes — in response to their attempt to impose religion and deny freedom and privacy — is maybe not “harassment,” even if strategically unwise.

    Whereas conservative justices allowing distressed women and girls to be screamed at (by radical right forced birth terrorists with history of murdering abortion providers) is indeed harassment.

    It is also yet another fine example of Republican dishonesty, hypocrisy, double standards, and phoniness.

    Now, the incident where a Molotov cocktail was recently thrown into a forced birth group’s headquarters, that’s a cause for concern. The worry should be about potential for now-peaceful vigils to metastasize and escalate into violence, like anti-abortion protests did in the 80s and 90s. The standalone fact Federalist Society drones being inconvenienced by the predictable results of their own dogmatic rulings? Boo hoo.

    13
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

    -Frank Wilhoit

    7
  18. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @MarkedMan:
    But but but
    Justices have privileges that exceed those of the ‘common’ folk. Respect, dignity, and personal security are to be protected for the privileged class.

    4
  19. DK says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: It’s almost as if the conservative justices and their apologists think a sphere of privacy is inherent to freedom and essential to one’s security, welfare, and tranquility — pursuant to the dictates in the constitution’s preamble and 9th and 14th Amendments.

    It’s almost as if the Federalist Society justices believe a right to privacy is required to protect a human being’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, based in “the nation’s history and traditions” (see Alito, Sam) outlined in our Declaration of Independence.

    Imagine that.

    11
  20. Jon says:

    So here we have another instance of “protesting something grotesque is much worse than the grotesque thing itself.” Never gets old.

    12
  21. Crusty Dem says:

    @James Joyner:

    The unanimous decision was the rule cannot be specific to clinics. Roberts managed this narrower interpretation to avoid the Alito/Scalia/Thomas desire for no restrictions of any type outside clinics.

    Meanwhile, years before this ruling the RNC corralled protesters into a “free speech zone” 3/4 of a mile from the convention center.

    It’s easy to be a hypocrite when it comes to free speech, but conservatives have truly mastered the genre.

    10
  22. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Given that the right of free speech and peaceful assembly is specifically guaranteed by the First Amendment, might not a reasonable position be that a right to privacy in one’s home is a reasonable construction of the Ninth Amendment’s mention of other rights? Those who denigrate the concept of a right to privacy as merely a constitutional “penumbra” should explain why such protests as those at the Roberts and Kavanaugh domiciles are wrong.

    7
  23. DK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    Those who denigrate the concept of a right to privacy as merely a constitutional “penumbra” should explain why such protests as those at the Roberts and Kavanaugh domiciles are wrong.

    It’s wrong because only conservatives and those they deem worthy have rights. To privacy. To free speech. To marriage. To control classrooms. To gun ownership. To bailouts and economic relief. Etc etc.

    The rest of us (Disney, Philando Castile, liberal women, Colin Kaepernick, black parents, indebted students, gays, et al) only have the rights Republicans say we have, contingent on wherever their religious views and reactionary politics are landing at any given moment. Duh.

    9
  24. KM says:

    The main argument seems to be that two wrongs actually do make a right.

    The main argument is hypocrisy shouldn’t be tolerated and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Please cite the explicit Constitutionally protected right to not have people protest outside your home. Please cite explicit Constitutionally protected right to privacy, quiet or even security in your home from something outside There isn’t an explicit one but rather ones derived from other rights….. kinda like the right they just declared null and void. Furthermore, they’ve ruled on what is acceptable for protests many, many times so they shouldn’t be surprised someone decided to apply the rules to them. No laws are being broken so this is an SFTU situation for everyone who was fine with the last 50 years of how protests have been handled in general and on this topic in particular.

    It’s really funny how when Dems do what’s acceptable for Republicans, suddenly they are bad people who aren’t playing fair and letting decorum down. Maybe if Dems had been willing to commit two wrongs and endure the pearl clutching, we’d still have a 50yr right. Meanwhile I can’t seem to care that someone is suffering the same inconvenience millions of people have for decades since guess what, PP could be located anywhere even in a residential urban area. A friend lived down the block from one just out of college and I *hated* having to visit. Had to park blocks away since they would either take pictures of your license plate or wait there to accost you and then wade through the crowds of assholes harassing me just for being female even near an abortion clinic. Nobody cared about my friend’s displeasure at the daily protests in her neighborhood (something that drove her out of affordable housing and into debt to get away) but I should care about rich peoples’? If two wrongs making a right turns out to be equality, what does that say about the folks who let the first wrong go?

    22
  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    I would describe the liberal argument as “live by the sword, die by the sword”.

    This is personal for us. Very personal. Particularly since the logic given applies to contraception, it applies to SSM, and it’s co-occurring with assaults on treatment of trans children as “abusive”.

    6
  26. Scott says:

    OTOH, these protest actions are stupid and unproductive. Vote has already been taken. The energies need to be at the state and legislative levels, at getting out the vote. This is feel-good behavior up there with those performative Handmaid’s Tale twits.

    2
  27. drj says:

    @Scott:

    OTOH, these protest actions are stupid and unproductive.

    These judges should get to feel that there are consequences to taking away people’s rights.

    Suffering consequences for their actions, even if minor, may get them to think a bit harder about exactly how far they would like to take this minority rule thing.

    6
  28. Chip Daniels says:

    There is also a type of cultural blindness at work here.
    Many people, like me, live in downtown areas where there isn’t a “residential area”. I tolerate all manner of parades and protests on the street outside my door because that’s what living in a vibrant free society looks like.

    Restricting political protests from residential zones makes the zoning code into a defacto 1st Amendment exclusion map.

    13
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I find it a little surprising that at a time when Griswold is under assault by the right, James is arguing that we need to respect the privacy of these conservative justices.

    Nah, no I don’t.

    12
  30. Modulo Myself says:

    There have been numerous protests outside Chuck Schumer’s place off Prospect Park without a media meltdown. I mean, yeah, that’s a scary mob outside Kavanaugh’s, if by scary your baseline is chalk-based terrorism on a Maine sidewalk.

    9
  31. gVOR08 says:

    WAPO was doing pretty good until they got to,

    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

    So I’ll buy their argument. If SCOTUS makes “controlled, evidence-based, rational” decisions they should not be protested at their homes. But if not? Alito’s opinion is a classic of Originalist cherry-picked evidence.

    8
  32. Chip Daniels says:

    @gVOR08: As is often noted, when you step outside the law, you lose the protection of it.

    When you issue court orders that are little more than “Because I say so” you can’t hide behind the robes of judicial decorum.

    5
  33. mattbernius says:

    All I can contribute to the conversation is to note that it is actually not that uncommon for high-ranking elected political figures in the US to regularly have protestors outside their house.

    For example, check out this google of “Nancy Pelosi Protestors Outside House” to see how often protestors from the Right and the Left have gathered outside of the Pelosi’s home in CA.

    I think there is also a broader question about how much deference we give to Supreme Court Justices. To that point:

    But it’s one thing to inconvenience Justices or Members of Congress as they try to get to their office or have to listen to chanting through megaphones while doing their job.

    The reality is that it’s really difficult to do that in the case of Supreme Court Justices given how large a protest buffer zone has been created around the court itself. In 1949, Congress passed a law that stated: “It is unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”

    5
  34. gVOR08 says:

    A more meta comment, not addressing the current topic of whether we should dox asshats. I used to think we had arrived, well post-Enlightenment, at a general recognition that it’s not the business of the government to enforce the moral views of the king, or of a privileged minority. Alito made a pretty good argument that there is no consensus on the morality of abortion. But he decided the question is what level of government should enforce its* moral view on the subject.

    * in keeping with the themes of OTB I should make clear it’s not the collective opinion of the (gerrymandered) state, but the opinion of a majority of Republican primary voters. Abbott didn’t support his draconian abortion vigilantes out of deep seated moral conviction. He’s a successful GOP pol, he long ago gave up moral convictions. He did it to pander to his primary voters.

    2
  35. Jay L Gischer says:

    @KM: You posted this while I was posting my first comment noting how personal this issue was for so many of us. And here you give such a good example.

    Let me give another, though it isn’t my direct story, so I’ll be a bit short on details.

    We visited Houston, TX last Christmas to be with my older (cis) daughter. On our return, my other daughter, the trans one, was harassed by a TSA agent. She was detained long enough to miss her flight. There were other indignities visited upon her, based on the results of a backscatter scan, which I won’t detail.

    She has flown many times, including to Europe. The only time this has happened is in Texas.

    I would refuse to visit Texas at all were it not for my other daughter’s circumstances. I do not expect my daughter to visit her sister again until things take quite a different turn.

    If the government should decide that they recognize no rights that will protect my daughter, I will find other means to protect her.

    I, for one, would be willing to protect Brett Kavanaugh from the indignities my daughter suffered. That ain’t right. But a few people with signs on the street by his house? A legally conducted protest? Nah. He’s a big boy, he can take it. If he can’t take it, then why did he sign on to the Whitewater investigation?

    Republicans are the ones who decided to politicize the court, which they have done, over and over. You made this bed, now try and sleep in it.

    7
  36. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    That’s horrible and I’m sorry your daughter and family had to suffer through that.

    That said, Brett Kavanaugh, as his hearing proved conclusively, is not a big boy and he can’t take it, and the people who are actually abused by power are meaningless when it comes to the rage of those who are slightly inconvenienced. America has long believed that the people like your daughter have to suffer so that Brett Kavanaugh can feel comfortable. That was the entire basis of how Clinton sold DOMA to gay people. Appease the fragile homophobes and bigots.

    4
  37. Jen says:

    I have far less sympathy for these high profile public figures than I do for the school board members and public health employees who were harrassed and threatened throughout the pandemic.

    It feels to me like there’s an application along the lines of Sullivan to be applied here. These are public officials and they are making decisions that impact lives. It’s naive to not anticipate a bit of attention, yes?

    7
  38. KM says:

    @Chip Daniels:
    Yep, NIMBY rears it’s ugly head again. Why should it not be ok to protest in a residential suburb in the nice part of town when it’s ok to so downtown where apartments, condos or low-end housing might be? Hmmmm, wonder that the diff is…..

    For another example, a few weeks ago I went to a local grocery store after brunch with friends to find the parking lot FULL of trucks and cars on the access road and more lining up. It was a MAGA rally / mask protest and they were literally blocking one side of the road and looping around to block the other. It wasn’t so bad when I (stupidly) ran in to grab somethings thinking the one cop I saw out there would help stop traffic from being blocked. Nope – 15 min later and we were all trapped; the customers in the store were FURIOUS they couldn’t leave because the line of cars was now 3 rows deep and blocking all exits. It became a shouting match between the organizers trying to film and everyday local shoppers who just wanted to go about their business. The kicker? Most of them were on the side of the protesters (a conservative-heavy part of town) but mad AF it was inconveniencing *them*. They were supposed to be heading out to the nearest highway exist and bothering people in liberal areas, not in the nice quiet little red part of town. How dare they ruin a shopping trip, don’t they know the ice cream is melting?!?!? Once the organizers realized they might be overstaying their welcome, they decided to roll but it took pissing off the wrong people for them to care. I left after listening to shoppers grumble about what a pain that was but uncaring about how that pain was about to be visited on folks they don’t like. Pissing off the right people was the apparent point, after all since there were no mask mandates at the time.

    The SC is getting a home visit from protesters. Boo hoo, welcome to how the rest of us live. They feel unsafe in their living room? Wow, talk to some liberal politicians to see how that feels if you don’t want to speak to the commoners who can’t walk outside their apartments most days. They feel threatened by a protest? Hmmmm, maybe they should read their own logic and realize that as long as the protesters say X feet back, they’ll be fine…. in theory, anyways. It’s almost like fair is fair and they don’t like that…..

    5
  39. Neil Hudelson says:

    Protesting outside the homes of elected officials is…a thing that’s happened year upon year for at least my entire life. Am I missing something here? My understanding is that Pelosi has protestors outside her home nearly constantly. Any state leg in a red state who’s voted against abortion restrictions have protestors outside their homes for months, leading up to and after the vote. School board members, city councilors…this is just super common.

    Was there something specific that happened outside a SCOTUS Justice’s house that makes this different? Violence or something? Or is it just different because they shouldn’t have to deal with the rigmarole everyone else in the country has to deal with?

    8
  40. Mimai says:

    Full disclosure 1: I didn’t read the article. Have the justices themselves made public statements complaining about the protests? To be sure, I suspect they are not enthusiastic about the enthusiastic protests occurring at their homes. But have they expressed this?

    Full disclosure 2: I’m not a protest type of person. By which I mean, march in streets, carry signs, etc. I understand the sentiment. And I support the right. It’s just not my thing. To each their own.

    Full disclosure 3: I’m not a fan of protesting at people’s homes. Mostly (though not solely) because of the other people who live there. Again, I understand the sentiment. And support the right (with some caveats). But if I’m being honest, I don’t like it.

    2
  41. JKB says:

    People are so terrified that the US may follow the Western European model of regulating abortion through the democratic action of voters via their elected representatives. In the EU, the member states have varying laws on abortion as determined by the local voters. True, most of the laws are not as liberal as the MS law or the recent TX laws.

    None of the articles on the Texas woman cited under what statutes she was charged and indicted. They do say, she was arrested after the hospital reported her self-induced abortion. Perhaps they don’t like competition. In any case, the charges were dropped after consideration by the prosecutor due to the pregnant woman being exempt from criminal liability in the intentional killing of her unborn child.

    Texas law exempted her from a criminal homicide charge for aborting her own pregnancy, University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck told The Associated Press.

    “(Homicide) doesn’t apply to the murder of an unborn child if the conduct charged is ‘conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child,'” Vladeck said.

  42. Gustopher says:

    Congratulations James, you have found the real issue.

    It wasn’t that the Supremes are going to be restricting the rights of Americans.

    It wasn’t that the Supremes are using reasoning that is specious at best and dangerous at worst, throwing out the basis of common law and putting countless other rights in jeopardy.

    It wasn’t even the leak, as there is some question of whether that came from the left or the right.

    No, the real issue is that people are protesting the wealthy and powerful men who made this entirely political decision. It would be one thing if they protested somewhere else where they wouldn’t be noticed — it would still be unseemly, and there might be some disorder there that needs to be reigned in with the power of the state, but it could be managed.

    There’s something almost Unamerican about little people raising their voices in protest against an undemocratic injustice.

    Why, everyone knows that the important founding fathers were white landowners. There were property rights being violated.

    Just as now, having protesters within earshot is preventing Supreme Court Justices from enjoying their property.

    And that’s not to even mention poor Susan Collins who has to suffer knowing that the public property in front of her home was defaced with a brutal and savage rebuke with extraordinarily good handwriting.

    9
  43. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: You forgot your usual citation.

    Let me fill that in for you:

    Stephen Vladeck, Feminism (1907)

    4
  44. Gustopher says:

    @DK:

    Now, the incident where a Molotov cocktail was recently thrown into a forced birth group’s headquarters, that’s a cause for concern.

    Have we identified the perpetrators yet?

    There is suspiciously little long-term damage, and the threatening message has really good handwriting which suggests that whoever did it was taking their time and wasn’t worried about being caught.

    (Much like the hooligans in front of Susan Collins’ house… maybe it was them?)

    Some on the left are saying it’s probably a false flag, but generally anytime someone says “false flag” they’re crazy.

    Also, the threatening message was “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either”

    The apostrophes in the right spot, and the comma, and everything is spelled correctly, uses the right then/than. Plus it uses either — I’m guessing the perpetrator is college educated. If they had used “neither” I would assume they had a masters degree. That level of education makes me lean towards thinking it was a liberal.

    The fact that the message is clear and succinct rules out a PhD. The handwriting certainly rules out a medical doctor.

    The lack of hearts dotting the “i”s rules out twelve year old girl.

    4
  45. Chip Daniels says:

    @Gustopher:
    Here is the actual citation of Judge Alito’s opinion:
    Bracton: De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliæ
    (Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England
    attributed to Henry of Bratton, c. 1210-1268)

  46. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    In the EU, the member states have varying laws on abortion as determined by the local voters. True, most of the laws are not as liberal as the MS law or the recent TX laws.

    Why do research when you can repeat talking points?

    26 out of 28 European Union member states allow abortion on a woman’s request or broad social grounds. 2 EU member states do not allow this.

    In the European Union (EU) almost every country has legalized abortion on request or broad social grounds. Poland and Malta are the only EU member states that have not yet reformed their highly restrictive laws.

    […]

    Across the European region as a whole, 41 of 47 countries have legalized abortion on request or broad social grounds. 39 of these countries have legalized abortion on request, either without restriction as to reason or for reasons of distress.

    Abortion on request means that doctors or other professionals are not required to attest to, or certify, the existence of a particular reason or justification for the abortion.

    Source: https://reproductiverights.org/european-abortion-law-comparative-overview-0/

    But what about time limits you ask?!

    Some European countries’ laws set the time limit for abortion on request or broad social grounds between 18-24 weeks of pregnancy, whereas others set the limit around the first trimester of pregnancy. However, all these countries’ laws also allow access later in pregnancy in specific circumstances, such as where a woman’s health or life is at risk. The standard practice across Europe is to not impose time limits on these reason-based grounds.

    A number of European countries have enacted reforms to extend the time limits for access to abortion on request or broad social grounds. These reforms recognize that although most abortions in Europe take place during the first trimester of pregnancy, short time limits can have harmful impacts on women who seek abortion care after the relevant time limit.

    Source: ibid

    Ok, let’s check the Mississippi Law:

    The Mississippi law makes most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy, about two months earlier than Roe and later decisions allow. Most experts estimate fetal viability to be about 24 weeks.

    The law was enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature but never went into effect because of an immediate legal challenge that led to a federal appellate court blocking its enforcement.

    The law bans abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” is determined to be more than 15 weeks, with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

    Source: https://www.nytimes.com/article/mississippi-abortion-law.html

    So, umm… thats more restrictive than many if not most European countries.

    As for Texas, it essentially bans abortion after 6 weeks (or when a heartbeat is detectable — which is well before 20 weeks). After that, unlike in most of Europe, its all but impossible to get an abortion under any circumstances (source: https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/10/texas-abortion-law-ban-enforcement/).

    But hey, when do facts ever matter?

    6
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wrong target. We should be picketing evangelical churches. They are the enemy. We should picket them and loudly disrupt their services with protests.

    4
  48. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Por que no los dos?

    Honestly, the amount of discomfort this is provoking in the establishment and their supporters makes it worth it. The rich and powerful are mad that the rules are being applied to them.
    They’re trying to make “proto-violence” happen for something that they honestly should have gotten years ago. There hasn’t been nearly enough pushback in a way that makes them upset.

    Isn’t a conservative thing that the government should have a healthly fear of the People’s willingness to take matters into it’s own hands so it doesn’t decide to go all tyrannical? If all you have to worry about it people waving signs, be grateful since MAGAts have been suggesting 2A solutions to politicians they don’t like for a while now. Libs like signs and chanting so they should be grateful…..

    1
  49. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    None of the articles on the Texas woman cited under what statutes she was charged and indicted. They do say, she was arrested after the hospital reported her self-induced abortion. Perhaps they don’t like competition. In any case, the charges were dropped after consideration by the prosecutor due to the pregnant woman being exempt from criminal liability in the intentional killing of her unborn child.

    If you are interested, I actually covered this case in-depth a few weeks ago. The entire thing was a complete cluster-eff that appears to involve prosecutorial misconduct (due to a line prosecutor) at best and malfeasance at worst:
    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-toxic-mix-of-overcharging-and-punitive-bail/

    Either way, it’s not an example either side should point to in this debate (other than the fact that the Hospital staff might have been confused about the law and any duty to report requirements in it).

    1
  50. Mikey says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Was there something specific that happened outside a SCOTUS Justice’s house that makes this different? Violence or something? Or is it just different because they shouldn’t have to deal with the rigmarole everyone else in the country has to deal with?

    They’re still perpetrating the fiction they are not entirely political actors, and therefore it is an offense against decorum to protest outside their homes.

    3
  51. KM says:

    @Mikey:
    Even if they weren’t political actors, there’s no right to not have protestors outside your house. Anyone can protest anyone for any reason pretty much anywhere. Ask Zuck or any other controversial person about their experiences at home and they’ll give SCOTUS some tips. It’s custom and curtesy to not go to someones house and since norm-breaking is the new norm, why shouldn’t this be added to the list?

    1
  52. Edward Jobin says:

    @KM: : 18 U.S. Code § 1507 – Picketing or parading Whoever, with 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, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

  53. DK says:

    @JKB:

    People are so terrified that the US may follow the Western European model of regulating abortion through the democratic action of voters via their elected representatives.

    Typical conservative dishonesty, just like the “settled law” deception of our Apartheid Court’s selfish Federalist Society hacks.

    The “European model” on abortion is the Roe/Casey standard that privacy-hating, anti-freedom forced birthers have been chipping away and are now destroying to impose their misogynist religious extremism on an unwilling America: in Europe, abortion-on-demand with no questions asked is available up to 12-24 weeks.

    Put in practice, Europeans can and do still easily obtain abortion permission after that, as they are smart, fair, and decent enough to recognize no woman will put herself through the physical and emotional trauma of later-term abortion unless required by extraordinary and usually tragic circumstances. And that, really, those details are not the government’s business.

    Unlike the fascist model of Rethugliklans, Europeans are not trying to restrict abortion after only 6 weeks or force women and girls to have rape and incest babies, per GQP legislation in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Floriduh, Mississippi, and elsewhere.

    But since conservatives are suddenly all-in for the “European model,” I’m sure y’all will now stop blocking universal healthcare, mass rail transit, gun control, climate change fixes, paid leave, universal pre-K, and free college, right? No? Oh it was just typical self-serving, mendacious, right wing bad faith? What a shock.

    2
  54. Edward Jobin says:

    @KM: I have cited it twice and had it removed apparently. It is a federal crime 18 U.S. Code § 1507 –

  55. Edward Jobin says:

    It doesn’t take too much intelligence to figure out why protests wouldn’t be allowed to occur outside of a Justice’s home. Imagine an outlaw gang “protesting” outside of a justice home while one of their members was on trial? Anyone should be able to figure out you are not allowed to intimidate witnesses or judges.

  56. Edward Jobin says:

    @DK: Of the 62 million abortions since Roe less than 1% were because of rape or incest.

  57. Matt Bernius says:

    @Edward Jobin:
    Welcome to commenting at OTB. Sorry that your initial two posts were moderated. To provide context (though I was not the one to do the modding), I suspect the reason was that (a) you were a new poster, and (b) you were posting only statute with no commentary as to the reason why.

    I’ve corrected that mistake and revived one of the two posts (the only difference I saw was this one referenced @KM). Apologies for the confusion.

    1