WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today joined Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and a group of 9 additional Republican senators in introducing the Protect Our Supreme Court Justices Act, a bill to further protect Supreme Court Justices from intimidation and threats of violence. The legislation will raise the maximum term of imprisonment for individuals who attempt to unlawfully influence the decision-making of a federal judge from one year to five years, creating a stronger deterrent amid increased threats against the Court.
Senator Britt and Blackburn were joined by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) in introducing the bill.
“Protesters attempting to influence judicial decisions through harassment, intimidation, or violence outside the homes of Justices and judges need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The rule of law cannot be replaced with mob rule in the United States. The integrity and effectiveness of our judicial system hinges on the ability of judges to impartially interpret the law and rule on the legal merits of cases without fearing retribution to themselves or their families. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act to ensure we have a strong deterrent that can keep our Justices, judges, and their families safe while safeguarding the rule of law,” Senator Britt said.
“As we saw last summer, the woke liberal mob will go to great lengths to target those they disagree with – even illegally intimidating Supreme Court Justices at their private residences,” said Senator Blackburn. “It’s extremely concerning that none of these protesters have been arrested for breaking the law, and the DOJ has not issued any guidance on enforcing this statute. The Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act will deter intimidation of our Justices and send a message that the Biden administration has refused to send: Justices must be allowed to do their jobs without fearing for the safety of themselves or their families.”
“Conservative Supreme Court justices are facing increasing protests from far-left extremists trying to intimidate or punish the justices for their decisions. This legislation will help protect all Supreme Court justices from threats of violence so they can do their jobs as impartial interpreters of the law,” said Senator Cotton.
In the aftermath of the unprecedented May 2, 2022 leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, protesters began demonstrating outside of the private residences of Supreme Court Justices. 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 their final opinion on 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. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 1507 states that any individual who, “with the intent of influencing any judge . . . in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades . . . in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge” is subject to criminal monetary penalties or a maximum of one year of imprisonment, or both.
The U.S. Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland, has refused to arrest, charge, or prosecute any individuals who illegally protested outside of the homes of Supreme Court Justices in 2022. In a recent hearing of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Britt directly questioned Attorney General Garland about the clear failure to pursue charges.
The Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act:
- Increases the maximum term of imprisonment for violation of Section 1507 from one year to five years.
- Deters the intimidation of our Supreme Court Justices, especially at a time when the Biden DOJ refuses to enforce the law.
- Ensures that future administrations that are willing to enforce the law can send a strong message to these far-left protesters that Supreme Court Justices must be allowed to do their jobs without fearing for the safety of themselves or their families.