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Supreme Court Marshal asks Hogan and Youngkin to stop protests at home

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The Supreme Court’s chief security officer has written letters asking senior officials in Maryland and Virginia to lead police to enforce laws she says ban pickets in the suburbs of Supreme Court justices after weeks of demonstrations for abortion rights.

In four separate letters addressed to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D), to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay (D) Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley said protests and “threatening” activity have increased in judges’ homes since May.

“For weeks, large groups of protesters have been chanting slogans, using megaphones and beating drums in the homes of Justices in Maryland,” the letter to Hogan reads. “Earlier this week, for example, 75 protesters loudly protested at a Justice’s home in Maryland for 20-30 minutes in the evening, then pecked for 30 minutes at another Justice’s home, where the crowd grew to 100, and eventually returned to the house of the first judge waiting another 20 minutes. This is exactly the kind of behavior that Maryland and Montgomery County laws prohibit.”

Youngkin, Hogan Ask Justice to Stop Protests at Judges Home

The marshal cited Maryland law, which states that a “person may not knowingly associate with another in a manner that interferes with one’s right to rest in the person’s home” and that law “provides for a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison.” or a $100 fine.”

The Maryland letters, reviewed by The Washington Post and dated July 1, also cite a Montgomery County law that says an “person or group of persons may not picket in front of or next to a private residence,” as well as a law that says a group may marching in a residential area “without stopping at a particular private residence”.

Michael Ricci, Hogan’s communications director, pushed back against Curley in a comment Saturday afternoon on Twitter. “Had the Marshal taken the time to investigate 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,” he wrote.

Ricci noted that Hogan and Youngkin had previously written to Attorney General Merrick Garland “to enforce the clear and unambiguous on-book federal statutes prohibiting pickets at judges’ residences.” Garland refused, Ricci said.

“In light of multiple federal entities’ continued refusal to act, the governor has directed the Maryland State Police to further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution,” he wrote.

Outside Kavanaugh’s house, a neighbor gathers for abortion rights

Nadine Seiler, a resident of Maryland, was one of 75 protesters referenced in the Marshal’s letter to Hogan. She said the protest groups that go out every week are normally no more than 15 people, but this week the crowd grew due to the overthrow of the court. Roe v. Wade† Some neighbors, Seiler said, came out of their homes to join the demonstrations.

Police handed out documentation of the protest laws, and to enforce them, protesters lined up in a single row on a sidewalk, but didn’t stop in front of a specific house, Seiler said.

Seiler said they “make noise” but operate within Maryland noise ordinance before 9pm

“We’re within the law,” Seiler said. “They prove us right — that we have to be there to maintain our right to the First Amendment or we wouldn’t have it.”

The letters to Youngkin and McKay were released by the court on Saturday.

Abortion rights advocates had originally taken to the streets in front of judges’ houses after the draft of a Supreme Court opinion indicating it planned to Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico in May. Protesters continued to gather outside the homes in June when the 49-year-old decision guaranteeing a person’s constitutional right to abortion was officially quashed.

After the release of the leaked design, but before the court gives its advice Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a California man was arrested near Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Chevy Chase home and charged with attempted murder of a judge. Nicholas Roske, is accused of flying to Maryland with a gun and burglary tools with plans to break into Kavanaugh’s home to kill him. Prosecutors said he was angry about the leaked draft and the recent shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas. Roske has pleaded innocent.

“Maryland and Montgomery County laws provide the tools to prevent picket activity at judges’ homes, and they must be enforced without delay,” said one of the letters from Curley, who is also leading the investigation into the Politico leak.

The ongoing demonstrations outside judges’ homes have sparked a legal debate over whether laws banning pickets outside judges’ private homes are constitutional.

It was not immediately clear Friday whether officials or law enforcement officers had received the marshal’s letter or how they intended to respond to the request.

The Maryland Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, spokesmen for Hogan and Elrich and the United States Supreme Court did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter Friday night.

“The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to preserving the first amendment rights of all individuals who wish to participate in peaceful, lawful protest and assembly,” the police’s website says on its homepage. It also includes a link to a list of protest laws “to help educate the community,” including those mentioned in the letters of the Supreme Court Marshal.

“Peaceful, lawful protest and assembly is a cornerstone of our democracy,” the document reads on the provincial police’s website.

Curley’s letters cited previous comments by Hogan and Elrich regarding protests at the judge’s house, including a statement from a Hogan press release that said, “We will continue to work with both federal and local law enforcement officials to ensure these residential areas are safe.” .”

In the letter to Elrich, Curley said a request was made to the county police to enforce the Montgomery County ordinance in May.

The letter also quoted a news report in which a Montgomery County official said people “can’t protest statically in front of someone’s home for political reasons” and that protesters are generally told to move and not stay in one place. for a longer period. It also quoted a letter published in The Washington Post from the author of the county ordinance urging the district administration and police to enforce the law.

“It is against the law in Montgomery County to peck at someone’s home for an issue that involves someone’s work,” the letter reads, quoting former Councilman Gail Ewing.

This story is being updated.