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McConnell, Grassley slam protests outside justices’ homes, say lawbreakers ‘must be held accountable’

Top Senate Republicans Monday slammed left-wing activists for protesting outside the homes of justices who are expected to vote to end Roe v. Wade, even going so far as to call for demonstrators to be prosecuted.  

Protestors organized by “Shut Down DC” went to the homes of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts over the weekend. The group is planning to send another group of demonstrators to Justice Samuel Alito’s home Monday night. 

“The harassment, intimidation, threats and destruction of property that we’ve seen since the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion are unacceptable, and no way to advocate for your viewpoint in a democracy. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the court has been threatened,” Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox News Digital. 

“Democrat leaders set a tone early on encouraging this behavior, and pro-abortion activists set out to intimidate the court mere minutes after the draft was leaked,” Grassley continued. “Peaceful protesting at the court is one thing, but threats and coercion to influence the outcome of a court decision will neither be fruitful, nor tolerated, and violators of the law must be held accountable.”

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The law Grassley appeared to be referencing is 18 U.S. Code § 1507, which many Republicans cited over the weekend in alleging that the protests outside the justices’ homes are unlawful.

The law says it is illegal to “picket or parade” outside a courthouse or a judge’s residence “with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty.”

It’s not clear whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to start enforcing that law as it pertains to the protests outside of judges’ homes, or if it believes those protests violate the law. The department did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital Monday. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Monday said he thinks the protests may be illegal. 

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“Trying to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is far outside the bounds of normal First Amendment speech or protest. It is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor. “It appears this may possibly be flat-out illegal. There is a federal law on the books that criminalizes ‘pickets or parades’ with ‘the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court office,’ at locations that include a judge’s ‘residence.’”

McConnell added: “Last year, Attorney General Garland’s Justice Department was quick to treat the concerned parents of America like potential domestic terrorists. But curiously, I haven’t heard any announcement about how the DOJ may handle these intimidation tactics aimed at federal judges.”

There is no room for mob action, intimidation, or any personal threats against a public official. Period. Whether it involves their home or otherwise it is out of line.

— Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Like Grassley, McConnell blamed Democrats for “the hysterical, potentially dangerous climate.” He said that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “repeatedly appeared to endorse” rallies at judges’ homes as long as they don’t become violent.

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But not all Democrats are so equivocal on the protests. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said last week showing up to a person’s home in that fashion is never acceptable. 

“There is no room for mob action, intimidation, or any personal threats against a public official. Period. Whether it involves their home or otherwise it is out of line,” Durbin said at a hearing. 

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., listens as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questions Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“I don’t care for people who do it to my home, and they have,” Durbin added. “It is demeaning and adolescent and not convincing at all when you’re trying to plead your case by doing something that outrageous.”

The protests follow a story last week by Politico which published a draft Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The story said that there were enough justices who supported that result in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health to carry a majority. 

The Supreme Court is expected to release its final opinion in the Dobbs case before the end of its current term, which will be in late June or early July. 

Fox News’ Kelly Laco and Adam Sabes contributed to this report. 

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