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One neighbor of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett had blunt advice for protesters who demonstrated outside of the justice’s house on Wednesday.
After a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft indicated the court had voted to overturn abortion precedents, pro-abortion protesters have been demonstrating outside of the personal residences of the court’s conservative-leaning justices.
What did the neighbor say?
On Wednesday, protesters gathered outside of Barrett’s home in Virginia. The demonstrators were dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
According to the Daily Signal, just seven protesters showed up. They demonstrated outside of Barrett’s residence for just 10 minutes, the news outlet said, before they departed the Falls Church, Virginia, neighborhood.
“It’s none of their business, why are they are here?” said a neighbor who spoke to a reporter. He also affirmed that it was “inappropriate” to protest outside Barrett’s home.
“They have the right to protest but not in front of someone’s house. They live here— this is where she lives,” he added. “They shouldn’t be doing this.”
The man then offered the protesters blunt advice. “Go home and get a family,” he said.
Are the protests legal?
Freedom to protest is a fundamental American right enshrined in the First Amendment. However, protesting outside the personal homes of justices may be illegal.
Specifically, federal law 18 U.S.C. §1507 — part of a chapter on obstruction of justice — appears to outlaw exactly what pro-abortion protesters have been doing.
The statute reads:
Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
First Amendment scholar Tabatha Abu El-Haj told the Washington Post the statute appears applicable in this situation.
“The statute would seem to apply both because … they appear to be picketing and parading with the relevant intent and at the relevant locations,” Abu El-Haj said, “but also because the statute has a catchall ‘resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence.'”
There is also a Virginia law that appears to outlaw the protests.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are urging the Justice Department to end the protests outside of the justices’ personal homes.