by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Leftist demonstrators are again targeting the homes of Supreme Court justices, and again Attorney General Merrick Garland won’t enforce the law to protect the judicial process from intimidation.
Admirably, four Republican senators are demanding that Garland do his job. Failure to comply should disqualify Garland from office.
The right of free speech has never extended to the right to harass. And while speech rights are broadest when they involve the political process, they are arguably weakest when intended to affect the impartial administration of justice, which is meant as an entirely apolitical enterprise. This is why federal law 18 USC 1507 makes it illegal to, “with the intent of influencing any judge … picket or parade [in or near] a residence occupied” by a judge. Note that this law, like laws regarding jury tampering and similar conduct, has been adjudged entirely constitutional and not in conflict with the First Amendment.
Leftist activists have ignored this law for the past 18 months or so, sporadically but at times quite vociferously, in an effort to pressure the justices about abortion and other areas facing the Supreme Court. They have even done so at the home of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has young children. Separate from the protests, several justices have been targeted with death threats. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the target of major harassment at a restaurant and, most frighteningly, an aborted assassination attempt by a man outside his house. Kavanaugh, it should be noted, had two minor daughters at home.
When numerous Republican officials complained that the Justice Department wasn’t enforcing the law, Garland tried to pawn off the decision on local marshals who, he said, had discretionary authority to determine whether arrests were warranted.