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Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing mounting political pressure to enforce federal law that prohibits picketing outside the homes of Supreme Court justices for the purpose of influencing a decision.
US Federal Code 1507, declares that any individual who “pickets or marches” with “intent to interfere with, obstruct or obstruct the administration of justice, or with intent to influence a judge, juror, a witness or judicial officer “near a United States court or “near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness or judicial officer” shall be liable to a fine or “imprisonment for a maximum of one year, or both”.
The Biden administration has encouraged protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices against the leaked abortion ruling as long as it remains peaceful. Garland’s DOJ, meanwhile, has yet to bring charges against protesters targeting judges’ homes, even after the alleged assassination attempt on Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
The DOJ’s hands-off approach has puzzled critics.
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Former Trump administration attorney general Bill Barr told Fox News Digital that “the law is crystal clear” and that “protests at a judge’s residence to influence a judge are a federal crime, and the law must be enforced”.
“The administration’s talking point that it supports the First Amendment is a non-answer,” Barr said in an email. “The right to protest has always been subject to reasonable ‘time, place, and manner’ restrictions, such as federal law prohibiting demonstrations outside a judge’s residence.”
“Protests in violation of the law are not legitimate First Amendment activities,” he continued.
The conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network agreed with the former attorney general, telling Fox News Digital that the protests were illegal and that picketing in front of judges’ residents could potentially affect the impartiality of the court.
“Relevant federal law prohibits picketing and marching outside a judge’s home, including for the purpose of influencing a judge,” Carrie Severino, executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network, told Fox News Digital. “I would like to know why Merrick Garland is refusing to enforce this law as protesters continue to gather at the judges’ private residences – especially after the apparent attempted assassination of Judge Kavanaugh.”
The DOJ’s response to protests at the judges’ homes has also drawn attention to Capitol Hill.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., lambasted Garland as “a partisan hack who should resign in disgrace for dereliction of duty.”
“A Democratic hitman attempted to assassinate Judge Kavanaugh and his family. On the same day, left-leaning street militias publicly announced they would picket his residence and the homes of other conservative justices,” Cotton told Fox News Digital. “This act of intimidation is a flagrant violation of federal law and Merrick Garland did nothing.”
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“His main job is to enforce the law, and he has totally failed,” continued the Republican senator. “If he doesn’t step down, we’ll impeach him once Republicans control Congress in January. Either way, he’s finished.”
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The DOJ did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Fox News Digital’s Kelly Laco contributed reporting.
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