During the Roe v. Wade controversy last year, U.S. Marshals assigned to protect Supreme Court justices allegedly received instructions not to detain demonstrators who gathered outside of their homes.
Last year, protesters targeted specific Supreme Court Justices after an unauthorized leak of a draft ruling that sought to overturn Roe v. Wade prior to it being determined. Even the left-leaning Washington Post at the time acknowledged that such demonstrations were probably against the law, specifically Title 18, Section 1507, U.S. Code.
“While it is true that demonstration is ingrained in our American democracy, from a legal standpoint, it is inaccurate to compare opposing a politician at home with protesting a judge at home. Regardless of how peaceful the rallies are, experts say the last category of protests is likely illegal,” the Post acknowledged.
“It is unlawful, with the goal to influence any judge, to parade or picket in or near a building or a residence used or occupied by such judge, witness, juror, or court officer,” the law states, “‘or with any such intent,’ of resorting to any other protest near or inside any such building or place of residence.”
Senator Katie Britt, a Republican from Alabama, discovered papers stating that Attorney General Merrick Garland instructed U.S. Marshals that they should not detain demonstrators, telling them that it is “not” a top concern. The Washington Times reports:
“Mr. Garland informed senators earlier in the month that the prosecutors couldn’t file charges unless the marshals conducted arrests, and the marshals present at the site didn’t see a need to make those arrests.”
“The guidance papers,” according to Ms. Britt, “show that they were told not to.”
She claimed that “they had been aggressively discouraged from doing so.”
Even in the marshalls’ instructions, it was stated that arrests were “not one of the goals” of their deployment and that they should only be used as a “last resort to avoid physical harm.”
The attorney general warned agents in his instructions that the law might face legal challenges regarding the prohibition on Americans pressuring judges to affect a court decision and discouraged them from resorting to using that as a justification for making an arrest. Additionally, according to Sen. Britt, the instructions instructed agents to consult with federal attorneys before conducting an arrest, which conflicts with Garland’s assertion that the agents were unfettered.
The guidelines stated that “any planned marshals enforcement action must be arranged beforehand with the appropriate USAO.”
Police detained Nicholas John Roske, 26, who is a California resident, close to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland during the height of the demonstrations after he reportedly traveled there to assassinate the sitting justice in order to defend Roe v. Wade.
The Washington Post at the time reported that “a California man that was carrying a weapon close to Brett M. Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland was ultimately placed into custody by the police shortly after informing officers he was planning on murdering the Supreme Court justice.”
“Two individuals with knowledge of the investigation said the preliminary evidence suggests the man was upset about the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion, which indicated that the court is gearing up to reverse Roe. v. Wade,” the Post concluded.
According to police and judicial records, Roske had a tactical knife, a Glock-17 pistol, zip ties, pepper spray, and a crowbar with him.
Author: Scott Dowdy