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Pro-abortion protests outside the homes of SCOTUS justices may be illegal

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Pro-abortion protesters descended upon the personal residences of the Supreme Court's conservative-leaning justices last week after a leaked opinion draft indicated the court had voted to overturn abortion precedents.

But those protests may not be protected under the First Amendment.

What are the details?

Federal law 18 U.S.C. §1507 — part of a chapter on obstruction of justice — prohibits exactly what the leftist protesters are 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.

The question, then, is why has the Justice Department not enforced the law?

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy told Fox News the silence from Attorney General Merrick Garland is deafening, especially considering what Garland has spoken out about.

"I would note that months ago, when Attorney General Garland unjustifiably dispatched the FBI to investigate parents who were protesting the inclusion of racist and anti-American materials in school curricula, Garland claimed that the Justice Department had an interest in protecting teachers and school administrators. Not only was it untrue that schools were under siege, the relationship between parents and schools is a state and local issue, not a federal one — hypothetically, if a parent were to assault a teacher, it would be a state crime, not a federal one," McCarthy explained.

"By contrast, the protection of the Supreme Court as an institution, and of the justices’ security, are patently federal matters over which federal law enforcement has clear jurisdiction. It is inexcusable that the Justice Department is so silent and passive now, when it was loud and active over a manufactured controversy as to which it had no jurisdiction," he added.

Even the Washington Post editorial board, which is by no means conservative, suggested the Justice Department take action.

Referring to 18 U.S.C. §1507, the board wrote on Monday, "These are limited and justifiable restraints on where and how people exercise the right to assembly. Citizens should voluntarily abide by them, in letter and spirit. If not, the relevant governments should take appropriate action."

What is the White House saying?

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Monday about protesters violating a Virginia law that prohibits residential picketing.

After initially refusing to condemn the residential protests last week, Psaki struck a more neutral chord, explaining the White House condemns violence and intimidation. She also said president does not support protests that violate the law.

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