The White House was pressed to respond after a group of protesters assembled outside a restaurant where Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining Wednesday evening.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre got into an exchange during a Friday press conference over the confrontation that saw Kavanaugh escape Morton’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C., through a back door.
“Does the president think it’s appropriate for abortion-rights protesters to intimidate Supreme Court justices when they’re out to eat, like Brett Kavanaugh, who had to sneak out of a steakhouse last night?” Doocy asked.
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Jean-Pierre said the White House and President Biden “have been pretty clear” that the administration condemns “any intimidation of judges” and pointed to the president signing the Supreme Court Police Parity Act expanding the justices’ security.
“But you never said, ‘Don’t go to their houses’ as long as they’re peaceful,” Doocy interjected. “Would you say, ‘Don’t go to a restaurant that a Supreme Court justice is at?’”
PRO-CHOICE PROTESTERS TARGET SUPREME COURT JUSTICE KAVANAUGH AT DC STEAKHOUSE: REPORT
“What I’m saying is we condemn any intimidation when it comes to judges,” Jean-Pierre replied. “The president has talked about this, and we have put out statements in his name many, many times.”
“So there are circumstances that it’s OK if protesters know that a justice is out to eat at a restaurant that they can go and protest as long as they are what you consider peaceful?” Doocy pressed.
The White House press secretary said the administration wants “to see the protests be peaceful” and repeated that the White House has condemned intimidating justices.
In response, Doocy asked where the White House does not think it’s “appropriate” when it comes to protesters organizing where a justice or judge is, such as at home or in a restaurant.
Jean-Pierre answered that the administration has drawn the line where violence is and that it supported protesters organizing outside of restaurants.
“Really?” Doocy asked, with Jean-Pierre responding emphatically, “Peaceful protests.”
“So these justices, because protesters do not agree with an opinion that they’ve signed on to have no right to privacy? Is that what you’re saying?” Doocy asked.
“People have the right, this is what a democracy is,” Jean-Pierre responded, adding, “Of course, people have a right to privacy.”
Jean-Pierre said that people “also have a right to be able to protest peacefully” and that “it’s the intimidation and the violence” the White House condemns.
“Isn’t that creating a potential bad situation when there are people, even if they’re being peaceful at the time, they’re angry, and that’s why they would be there, right?” Doocy asked.
Jean-Pierre responded again that the Biden administration condemned the violence and intimidation before ending the exchange.
The steakhouse protest targeting Kavanaugh came a month after a 26-year-old liberal California man allegedly attempted to assassinate the justice.
Politico’s Friday morning “Playbook” reported that on “Wednesday night, D.C. protesters targeting the conservative Supreme Court justices who signed onto the Dobbs decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion got a tip that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining at Morton’s downtown D.C. location.”
Politico reporter Daniel Lippman confirmed the story Friday morning, tweeting, “NEW: Justice Brett Kavanaugh had to exit through the rear of Morton’s on Wednesday night after DC protesters showed up out front. A Morton’s rep told me: ‘Politics … should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner.’”
“Honorable Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and all of our other patrons at the restaurant were unduly harassed by unruly protesters while eating dinner at our Morton’s restaurant,” the restaurant spokesman’s full statement said. “Politics, regardless of your side or views, should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner.
“There is a time and place for everything. Disturbing the dinner of all of our customers was an act of selfishness and void of decency.”
Fox News’ Gabriel Hayes contributed reporting.