White House condemns 'threats' after peaceful protests outside homes of Roberts and Kavanaugh
The White House issued a statement on Monday saying that President Biden believes in the right to peacefully protest while condemning “violence, threats or vandalism” after abortion rights demonstrators marched outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh over the weekend.
“@POTUS strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. “But that should never include violence, threats or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.”
“Violence, threats and intimidation have no place in political discourse,” Psaki said at a press briefing on Monday afternoon. “Yes, we are a country that promotes democracy and we certainly allow for peaceful protests in a range of places across the country. None of it should violate the law.
"We have not seen violence or vandalism against Supreme Court justices," Psaki added. "We have seen it Catholic churches. That is unacceptable. The president does not support that. We have seen it at some conservative organizations. We don't support that."
On Saturday, dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the justices’ Chevy Chase, Md., homes, chanting, “No uterus, no opinion,” as police stood nearby.
There were no reports of violence or threats of vandalism during the protest, which organizers called a "candlelight vigil for Roe v. Wade."
The demonstration capped a week of nationwide protests triggered by publication of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggesting the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Roberts condemned the leak as a “singular and egregious breach” of trust and launched an investigation into its source.
Last week, Yahoo News reported that law enforcement authorities across the country have been preparing for the possibility of violence and civil unrest in reaction to the impending Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, which is expected next month.
A protest outside Alito’s home was planned for Monday night.
On Capitol Hill, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced a bipartisan bill — dubbed the “Supreme Court Police Parity Act” — that would expand security protection to the family members of Supreme Court justices.
“The events of the past week have intensified the focus on Supreme Court Justices' families, who are unfortunately facing threats to their safety in today's increasingly polarized political climate,” Cornyn said in a statement. “We must act to ensure Justices and their families are protected from those who wish to cause them harm by extending Supreme Court police security to family members.”
Coons added: “If the families of Supreme Court Justices have the same profile and exposure as the highest ranking officials in our government, they deserve the same level of protection. We must take threats that come from extremes on both sides of the political spectrum against Supreme Court Justices seriously, and that makes this bill an unfortunate necessity.”
According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted May 3-6, after Alito’s opinion was published by Politico, just 31% of U.S. adults say Roe should be overturned. In contrast, nearly twice as many Americans see abortion as “a constitutional right that women in all states should have some access to” (56%) and say the procedure should be legal in all or most cases (55%).
This story has been updated to include comments from Psaki, Cornyn and Coons.