The debate over the protests at the judges’ homes is just one of the murky political fault lines emerging from the release of a draft majority opinion last week. While Republicans have denounced the protests as illegal, Democrats have found themselves in a tough spot — from some lawmakers pointing to past protests in their own private residences to White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggesting that the demonstrations were acceptable as long as they were peaceful.
“I know there is outrage at the moment, I guess, about the protests which have been peaceful so far – and we certainly continue to encourage that – outside the houses of the judges. And that’s the position of the president,” Psaki said on Tuesday.
From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the chorus of GOP lawmakers condemning Democrats and the White House has intensified this week. Republicans argue Democrats are encouraging illegal activity as protesters gather outside the homes of Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Youngkin in particular faced backlash from members of his own party on Tuesday, when conservatives called on the new Republican governor to do more after he tweeted that state police were “closely monitoring” the protests.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent his own letter to Garland on Wednesday, asking the department to “prioritize the protection” of judges.
“The President may choose to characterize protests, riots and incitement to violence as mere passion,” Grassley wrote. “But these attempts to influence and intimidate members of the federal judiciary are an affront to judicial independence. No impartial person can question that “such conduct inherently threatens the judicial process”.
Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Wednesday afternoon that Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters” related to the court and the judges.
“The Attorney General has ordered @USMarshalsHQ to help ensure the safety of the justices by providing additional support to the Supreme Court Marshal and Supreme Court Police,” Coley said on Twitter.
Another element of the fallout continued on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when the Senate again failed to advance abortion rights legislation in a 49-51 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va .) and all Republicans voted against the largely symbolic attempt to codify rights.