Court Battles

GOP governors, state AGs urge Garland to enforce federal law to protect Supreme Court justices

An anti-scaling fence surrounds the U.S. Supreme Court
Associated Press/Alex Brandon
An anti-scaling fence surrounds the U.S. Supreme Court on May 5, 2022 in Washington.

Two Republican governors and more than two dozen state attorneys general wrote letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging him to enforce federal law to protect the Supreme Court justices in light of recent protests outside of their homes. 

“Today, we together ask that the Department of Justice through the respective United States Attorneys’ offices provide appropriate resources to safeguard the Justices and enforce the law as it is written,” Republican Govs. Larry Hogan (Md.) and Glenn Youngkin (Va.) wrote in a letter dated Wednesday

“It is critical that our Department acts to preserve the safety and standards of the highest court in the land. There is simply too much at stake.”

The two governors pointed to a section of the United States code that says a person can be fined, put in prison or both if they “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.”

Youngkin and Hogan wrote to Garland that “it is in your hands to ensure that applicable federal law is enforced to preserve the integrity of our American judiciary system and the safety of our citizens.”

Separately, 25 Republican state attorneys general also wrote to Garland on Wednesday, calling for him to make sure the Supreme Court justices were protected.

“Here, in the face of escalating extremism directed at the judicial branch, you have an obvious role to play. Congress recognized that pressuring judges to change their votes by protesting outside their homes directly threatens the rule of law,” the state attorneys general wrote.

“You profess to share those concerns, having unequivocally stated that attacking a courthouse ‘to prevent judges from actually deciding cases’ plainly constitutes ‘domestic extremism, domestic terrorism,’” they continued. “You can and should act accordingly by faithfully executing federal law to prevent protestors from attempting to intimidate the Justices of the Supreme Court, both to protect the Justices and to safeguard the rule of law.” 

The development comes after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion published last week indicated that the high court is preparing to strike down the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that nationally recognized abortion rights. The draft ruling was purportedly written in February.

The possibility that federal level abortion protections could soon be eliminated has galvanized Democrats and abortion-rights activists, with some activists staging protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.

That protesting, however, has been criticized by both Republicans and some Democrats. 

Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement on Wednesday amid the recent protesting that “Attorney General Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices.”

“The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police.”

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for additional comment. 

Tags Department of Jsutice DOJ Glen Youngkin Larry Hogan Merrick Garland Merrick Garland Supreme Court Supreme Court leak Supreme Court protests

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