White House tacitly endorses intimidation of Supreme Court justices

It was a horrific scene at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va. five years ago. Five people were shot while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. Among the wounded was Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was in critical condition while undergoing several surgeries to stop internal bleeding. Fortunately, he would survive, as would the other victims. 

They were extremely fortunate that three Capitol Police officers were present because they were assigned to Scalise given his leadership position in the House of Representatives. But if Scalise hadn’t been at practice that morning, the gunman would’ve had several more minutes before police arrived and could’ve killed or seriously injured more people. 

One would think that our leaders in Washington would have learned from this terrible day and would be doing everything in their power to condemn similar acts of violence from happening again.

But the Biden White House doesn’t seem to care that angry mobs have gone to the homes of six conservative Supreme Court justices to protest the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade after a draft document stating such, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked earlier this week. A liberal firestorm followed, as the overturning of the 1973 decision would send abortion law back to the states.

One liberal group, “Ruth Sent Us,” has published online the home addresses of Justices Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts. Several of these justices have children at home, including Barrett, who has seven.

“Our 6-3 extremist Supreme Court routinely issues rulings that hurt women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights. We must rise up to force accountability using a diversity of tactics,” the group said earlier this week. 

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the planned protests earlier this week.

“Do you think that progressive activists that are now planning protests outside some of the justices’ houses are extreme?” asked Doocy. 

“Peaceful protest? No, peaceful protest is not extreme,” Psaki retorted. 

“Some of these justices have young kids,” Doocy followed. “Their neighbors are not all public figures. So would the president think about waving off activists who want to go into residential neighborhoods in Virginia and Maryland?”

“I think our view here is that peaceful protests — there’s a long history in the United States, in the country, of that. And we’ve certainly encouraged people to keep it peaceful and not resort to any level of violence,” Psaki replied. 

“These activists posted a map with the home addresses of the Supreme Court justice,” Doocy countered. “Is that the kind of thing the president wants to help your side make their point?”

“The president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document,” Psaki said. “We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected. We want people to protest peacefully if they want to protest. That is certainly what the president’s view would be.”

“I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest,” she added.

Interesting. Would the White House position be the same if angry pro-life protesters showed up at the private residences of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Psaki’s herself? Almost certainly it would not. 

Team Biden should condemn this and urge protesters to make their voices heard at the Supreme Court. Instead, by not condemning it, they are tacitly approving the intimidation of justices at their homes.

And by the way, Title 18, Section 1507 of the United States Code provides an official position of the U.S. government that the press secretary could not provide. 

“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.”

Perhaps another reporter in the daily briefing can circle back on this. Because this is clearly an attempt to influence judges on a pending case. There’s also potential danger to these judges and their families, which should be of great concern to the president. 

This isn’t the first time President Biden has refused to condemn harassment. In 2021, activists harassed and filmed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) while she was using a bathroom at Arizona State University. (Note: Filming someone in a bathroom in Arizona is a Class 5 felony.)

“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” Biden said at the time. “The only people it doesn’t happen to are the people who have Secret Service standing around them … So, it’s part of the process.”

No, Mr. President. Chasing a female senator into the ladies’ room and into a stall with a camera is not “part of the process.” The man who ran on unifying the country had a chance to bring down the temperature but failed to show the compassion he campaigned on.

The White House had a chance to say the right things here. As a substitute, they said all the wrong things. After the baseball field shooting and the Capitol Hill riot four years later, one would think the lessons had been learned. But they have not been. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Tags Biden congressional baseball game Jen Psaki Kyrsten Sinema leaked SCOTUS ruling peter doocy Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade Samuel Alito Steve Scalise Steve Scalise US Supreme Court

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