About 100 protesters took the battle over abortion rights to the homes of two conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices Saturday night, five days after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
Bearing signs and chanting slogans, the group marched from Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to Chief Justice John Roberts’ residence about a half mile away. The protesters then returned to Kavanaugh’s before police ordered them to disperse. It wasn’t clear whether either justice’s family was home.
The protest was a fresh demonstration of the growing vitriol over abortion as the court considers eliminating constitutional protections. The issue exploded Monday when Politico published the leaked draft opinion.
“The time for civility is over, man,” said Lacie Wooten-Holway, 39, a local resident who helped organize Saturday’s protest. “Being polite doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Kavanaugh is one of five justices Politico said cast preliminary votes to overturn Roe, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. CNN later reported that Roberts opposed overturning Roe completely and was trying to forge a compromise that would leave parts of the ruling intact while upholding a Mississippi law that limits abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Roberts and Kavanaugh earlier declined to comment on the protests. “The court as a matter of policy does not discuss security arrangements,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said Friday.
Fencing was erected around the Supreme Court building this week, much like the barriers put up after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday declined to criticize the practice of protesting outside a justice’s home.
“I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest,” she said. “We want it, of course, to be peaceful.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, this week criticized protests at the homes of justices and other public officials as “demeaning and adolescent.”
Two other Judiciary Committee members, Republican John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, introduced a bill that would extend security protection to the justices’ families.
“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.
Roberts, who has ordered an investigation of the leak, on Thursday called the leak “absolutely appalling” and said the person responsible would be “foolish” to think it would affect the court’s deliberations. The justices are scheduled to rule in the case by July.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.