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Republican senators are ramping up the pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to prosecute those who participated in protests outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last week just hours after a man was charged with planning to assassinate him.
“We continue to be baffled over the lack of prosecutions under Title 18, Section 1507 of the U.S. Code. We understand it is the policy of the Justice Department not to discuss any pending or potential investigations, but this is an urgent matter of national importance,” wrote Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa in a letter to Garland.
Title 18, Section 1507 is a federal statute that makes it illegal to protest near a building or residence occupied by a judge with the intent of influencing them. The intent of the law is to preserve judicial independence.
Last Thursday, 26-year-old Nicholas Roske of California was arrested for allegedly plotting to kill Justice Kavanaugh over what he anticipated would be Kavanaugh’s decision on a Supreme Court case that could potentially decide the fate of Roe v. Wade. Later that evening, protesters noisily demonstrated outside Kavanaugh’s home with chants and drums.
The demonstrations were among a spike in such activities in response to a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft that suggested the Court was on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. In the weeks since its publication, pro-life pregnancy centers have also been under assault.
“The responsibility of a judge—or justice—is to follow and apply the law according to his or her judgment. It is not to do so according to the judgment of their community, or the desires of their political party, or the will of the mob,” the senators wrote. “It is only their judgment that counts.”
“Given these important distinctions, it is only fitting that Congress prohibited the parading and picketing of judges’ houses in order to influence their decisions. It is a measure that preserves judicial independence,” the lawmakers explained.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee were also signatories to the letter.
The senators’ plea to A.G. Garland came a day after Senator Hawley of Missouri pressed Garland to explain why the Justice Department hasn’t taken more action against protesters.