(CNSNews.com) – Protesters have been showing up at the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices ever since the leak of the draft Dobbs (abortion) ruling last year, but Attorney General Merrick Garland told Congress on Wednesday he doesn’t know if anyone has been arrested for breaking a law that bars picketing outside justices’ homes.
“It’s very clear that they’re trying to influence in one way or another those serving on the United States Supreme Court,” Sen. Mike Lee told a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“And yet, not one person to my knowledge has been prosecuted for such things under 18 USC section 1507.”
Lee asked Attorney General Garland why no charges have been brought against protesters under that section of the law..
Garland said he didn’t know if anyone has been charged under Section 1507. But he defended what he has done in light of the ongoing protests:
“The thing that mattered, and as soon as the Dobbs draft leaked, I ordered that marshals…do something that the United States Marshals had never in history done before, which was protect the justices’ homes, residence and lives, 24-7,” Garland said.
“No attorney general had ever ordered that before. And no Justice Department had ever done that before.”
(“Which is terrific,” Lee cut in, but Garland kept going.)
“So we sent 70 U.S. Marshals for this purpose,” Garland continued.
“Those marshals’ priority is protection of the lives of the justices and their families. They are on site, but their priority job is protection.”
Garland said that’s why a man who apparently intended to harm Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not carry through with his plan, but walked away from the Kavanaugh home when he saw the guard detail outside.
Garland said the U.S. Marshals on the ground have “full authority” to arrest people under any federal statute, including 1507, “but they have to make the determination on the ground whether they can do that in a manner that is safe and able to protect their main mission.”
Garland noted that in addition to the marshals, some state and local officers have “similar authorities,” but Garland didn’t know if they have made any arrests.
Sen. Lee told Garland that when protesters show up at the homes of public officials, they’re sending a message of “implicit violence.”
“You’re sending the message, we know where you sleep. We know where you and your family are most vulnerable, and it’s very concerning to me,” Lee said.
USC 18 Section 1507 reads as follows:
“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.”
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