Ever since last week’s report that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn federal abortion rights, Republicans have tried to cast the protests against conservative justices as grave affronts to democracy. But the hair-on-fire allegations of lawlessness from right-wing media figures haven’t matched the reality, which is that the protests have been lawful and peaceful.
However, that didn’t stop Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin from trying to stifle them. On Wednesday, Youngkin tried to have a heightened police presence sent to the Virginia neighborhoods where some of the justices live — and, fortunately, his request has been denied.
Youngkin sent a letter to the Fairfax County board of supervisors calling on them to create an “expanded security perimeter” around the homes of Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who wrote the draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The governor said the request was based on “information received about upcoming activities,” though he didn’t provide any evidence to support such a claim.
“I fundamentally believe such demonstrations and picketing should not be allowed at the Justice’s homes as they are meant to intimidate and influence,” Youngkin wrote, saying the protests are “scaring their families and small children.” Youngkin, of course, didn’t provide any evidence for those claims either.
(If he’s truly worried about scaring kids, just wait until they hear about a future without bodily autonomy, where Christian extremist justices lay claim to wombs through judicial fiat.)
In a written response to Youngkin, Fairfax County’s board chairman, Jeff McKay, said the security perimeter would be unnecessary and unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press. Doing so would create a “checkpoint” that violates the right to free speech, he said.
“We will enforce laws that serve to protect persons and property,” McKay wrote, adding that “our officers are equally committed to protecting the First Amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech.”
Youngkin’s goal of stifling protesters, however, is both local and federal. He also co-signed a letter Wednesday with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican, calling on the Justice Department to snuff out the demonstrations using a law that forbids picketing or parading in front of justices’ homes.
All of this is part of a Republican-led attempt to divert attention from the fact the Supreme Court is expected to curb abortion rights — which are overwhelmingly popular.
When news broke of Alito’s draft opinion last week, Republicans labeled the leak an “insurrection,” and went all Liam Neeson in “Taken” trying to identify the leaker. Now, people like Youngkin are hyper-focused on the protests, as if outrage over creeping fascism is the true injustice here — not unconscionable government intrusion.