Kavanaugh protesters violate federal law

Dozens of protesters have carried through on their threat to demonstrate at the home of Justice Kavanaugh because of his vote in the case challenging Texas’ anti-abortion bill. Newsweek reports:

Around 50 to 60 people gathered outside Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, holding placards demanding that he resign and protesting against the new restrictive abortion law. . . .

The demonstration was largely peaceful and no arrests were made. . .There were a number of police officers present outside Kavanaugh’s home during the protest.

I assume that “largely peaceful” means some demonstrators were not entirely peaceful.

Should these protesters have been arrested? In my view, that depends on what non-peaceful things they did.

However, given the way federal prosecutors are treating non-violent demonstrators who participated in the invasion of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, it can easily be argued that all of the demonstrators at Kavanaugh’s house should have been arrested for violating federal law.

As I discussed in this post, the Jan 6 protesters face federal felony charges for “obstructing an official proceeding” of Congress. The government seems to be leveling, or at least contemplating, this charge even against protesters who did nothing more than mill around peacefully in the Capitol.

The prosecutors thus seem intent on stretching the federal statute criminalizing the obstruction of official proceedings beyond its reasonable contours.

It would require no such stretch to charge those who protested at Kavanaugh’s home with violating 18 U.S. Code § 1507. It states that anyone who “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. . .shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both” (emphasis added).

I’m not saying the anti-Kavanaugh protesters should be fined or imprisoned, or even arrested. I’m saying that not taking these actions against them seems inconsistent with the treatment of most January 6 protesters being prosecuted by the Biden Justice Department.

To be fair, I should point out that Senate Judiciary Committee members from both parties have denounced the protest at Justice Kavanaugh’s home. They say, correctly in my view, that the families and homes of government officials are not fair game.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy both took this position. Durbin’s comment was interesting. He said:

When it comes to criminal trespass, we got a belly full of that on January 6th. I don’t care whether you’re right or left, that is unacceptable as far as I’m concerned in expressing your political feelings.

Criminal trespass, or something along those lines, is all the vast majority of January 6 protesters should be charged with.

I hope I’m not being too cynical when I wonder whether Durbin and Leahy are themselves acting “with the intent of influencing” Justice Kavanaugh. After all, he, not Chief Justice Roberts, is now the swing vote on the Supreme Court.

Condemning a demonstration at Kavanaugh’s home seems like a good way to get on the Justice’s good side, or at least off of his sh*t list, where Durbin and Leahy both belong based on their unconscionable stance during Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings.

Responses