May 3, 2023

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) was joined by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers about why orders issued to deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) assigned to the homes of Supreme Court Justices directly contradict his and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s recent sworn testimony before Congress.

In the aftermath of the unprecedented May 2, 2022, leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, protesters began illegally demonstrating outside Justices’ homes. Subsequently, a map with the home addresses of five Republican-appointed Justices—Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett—was posted online. These protests occurred before the Supreme Court issued its final opinion in the case on June 24, 2022.

Federal law explicitly prohibits protesting at the residence of a judge with the intent of influencing the decision-making process of a judge in a case. According to 18 U.S.C. §1507, it is illegal to picket or parade near a residence occupied by a judge 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.”

While under questioning from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2023, Attorney General Garland confirmed that no protestors who demonstrated outside the Justices’ homes have been charged for violating Section 1507. During that hearing, he asserted that DOJ’s failure to bring any charges under Section 1507 was a result of USMS deputies stationed at the homes of the Justices failing to make any arrests for violations of the statute. He also asserted that USMS deputies stationed at the homes of the Justices were given full and independent authority to make arrests under any federal statute, including 18 U.S.C. §1507.

“In response to questions from Senator Lee, you stated under oath, that ‘the Marshals have been advised and they know – the Marshals on the ground – they have full authority to arrest people under any federal statute, including that federal statute [18 U.S.C. §1507].’  In response to Senator Cruz you confirmed that, to your knowledge, no prosecutions under Section 1507 had been brought, and you went on to say: ‘The Attorney General does not decide whether to arrest…the Marshals on scene…they do make the decision of whether to make an arrest,’” the Senators wrote in their letter.

“In response to Senator Cotton’s questions regarding the deterrent effect that might have resulted from arresting some of the protestors for violations of Section 1507, you stated that you were ‘leaving it to the Marshals Service to make determinations on the ground’ and the Marshals protecting the homes of the Justices ‘have to make determinations about what they see on the ground,’” they noted.

During Attorney General Garland’s appearance before the Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee on March 28, 2023, Senator Britt directly questioned the Attorney General about the failure to pursue charges and unveiled training slides obtained from a whistleblower that revealed USMS personnel were strongly discouraged from arresting individuals for violating Section 1507.

Attorney General Garland maintained that he had not seen the training slides but did not feel the need to correct his testimony from the Judiciary Committee’s March 1st hearing.

Appearing before the Judiciary Committee on April 19, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that she had not seen the training slides before they were revealed by Senator Britt, but after reviewing them, the deputy attorney general also did not see the need for Attorney General Garland to correct his previous testimony.

In addition to the training slides, in today’s letter, the four Senators point to multiple USMS post orders that they recently reviewed following the Attorney General’s testimony before the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee. These directives further make clear that USMS deputies on the ground were actively discouraged from pursuing arrests for Section 1507 violations, and that these decisions were not left solely in the hands of USMS, which is in contradiction to Attorney General Garland’s previous testimony.

In response to these revelations, Senator Britt and her colleagues are asking the Attorney General to provide documents and answer a list of written questions about this matter by May 24, 2023.

In addition to other items, the Senators have asked the Attorney General to provide all draft copies of training materials, guidance, post orders, or other documents related to USMS enforcement of Section 1507 at the homes of the Justices that was reviewed by individuals within the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. They also want to review any documents memorializing discussions within or involving individuals within the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General that pertain to USMS enforcement of Section 1507 outside of the Justices’ homes.

Additionally, their questions solicit information about communications among or from DOJ’s top leadership in regards to the directives given to the USMS, conversations with USMS personnel about the enforcement of Section 1507, and the DOJ’s current, authoritative construction of Section 1507 and whether that construction has changed at any point in time between the leak if the Dobbs opinion and the present day.

A copy of the letter can be found here.