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Demonstrators have been regularly protesting recent decisions outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices, ostensibly in defiance of the law.
But now, the days of those protests appear to be limited.
Police in Montgomery County, Md., will be cracking down on those demonstrations, the department announced on Thursday.
“MCPD supports the first amendment right to protest, however anyone violating the disorderly conduct statute, may be subject to arrest,” the department said in a tweet.
“Applicable laws regarding protests in Montgomery County have been added to the MCPD website,” the tweet continued.
Please note: MCPD supports the first amendment right to protest, however anyone violating the disorderly conduct statute, may be subject to arrest.
Applicable laws regarding protests in Montgomery County have been added to the MCPD website.https://t.co/nibddmkC3x#MCPD #MCPNews
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) July 13, 2022
“There are content neutral Montgomery County Code and Maryland Law provisions that restrict protesting and assembling in a private neighborhood, as well as disturbing the peace,” the MCPD added in a notice on its website.
The decision by Montgomery County — which borders Washington, D.C. — to enforce its ordinances regarding illegal protests comes months after they began in May, shortly after a draft opinion by the court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. In June, the high court issued an official 5-4 opinion striking down Roe and returned the issue to states. Protests began in earnest again after the official ruling.
Demonstrations outside of the homes of Supreme Court justices and federal judges are against federal law as well, but thus far, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Biden administration have refused to enforce them. That said, extra protection in the form of federal agents has been dispatched to justices’ homes.
The MCPD move also comes some weeks after an alleged attempted assassination of one of the conservative justices, Brett Kavanaugh, which drew no shortage of criticism from Republicans.
Also, the GOP governors of Maryland and Virginia responded to a letter in June from the Supreme Court’s highest-ranking security official who called on them to utilize their law enforcement resources to prevent protests at the homes of justices.
“The governor agrees with the Marshal that the threatening activity outside the Justices’ homes has increased,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin spokesperson Christian Martinez said in response to a letter from Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley that called on the governor to “enforce state law” prohibiting picketing outside the homes of the justices, Fox News reported.
“He welcomes the Marshal of the Supreme Court’s request for Fairfax County to enforce state law as they are the primary enforcement authority for the state statute,” the statement continued.
But Youngkin himself called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to “do his job” by “enforcing the much more robust federal law.”
“Every resource of federal law enforcement, including the U.S. Marshals, should be involved while the Justices continue to be denied the right to live peacefully in their homes,” the GOP governor added.
In addition, Curley sent a letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requesting the “Maryland State Police, in conjunction with local authorities as appropriate, enforce laws that prohibit picketing outside of the homes of Supreme Court Justices who live in Maryland.”
In response, Hogan’s Director of Communications Michael Ricci also pointed a finger at Garland in a Twitter post.
“Two months ago, Governor Hogan and Governor Youngkin sent a letter calling on Attorney General Garland to enforce the clear and unambiguous federal statutes on the books that prohibit picketing at judges’ residences,” Ricci wrote.
“A month later, hours after an assassination attempt on Justice Kavanaugh, the Department of Justice finally responded, declining to enforce the laws,” Ricci said.
“Now a different federal official is writing to us with conflicting information,” Ricci continued. “Had the marshal taken time to explore the matter, she would have learned that the constitutionality of the statute cited in her letter has been questioned by the Maryland Attorney General’s office.”
Neighbors of Kavanaugh have complained about the twice-weekly demonstrations outside his suburban Virginia home.
“It’s a horrific experience,” one neighbor said last month. “They have drummers. They have a megaphone, and they chant. They yell all kinds of things. … They have told neighbors, ‘F*** you, f*** your children,’ things like that. And so they’re abusive toward the neighbors and intimidating.”