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OPINION

Who Needs to Pack the Court When You Can Intimidate Justices into Retiring Early?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

With its ongoing protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices – which go far beyond any notion of “political speech,” and truly threaten the safety and security of the justices’ family members, including their small children – and its firebombing campaign against crisis pregnancy centers, the radical left has revealed just how much it despises our Founders’ constitutional framework.

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“If you take away our choices, we will riot,” said one pro-abortion activist outside Kavanaugh’s home. Riot? That’s quaint, compared to what the pro-abortion group calling itself “Ruth Sent Us” did when it tweeted information identifying Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s church and the school her children attend, and suggested protesters should “voice your anger” there.

Then there’s a group calling itself “Jane’s Revenge,” apparently a reference to the pseudonym “Jane Roe” from Roe v. Wade infamy, which has firebombed crisis pregnancy centers around the country. “If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you,” reads the graffiti spray painted on a vandalized interior wall.

Let me be clear – I am a strong supporter of free speech, and, more than that, I am a strong supporter of peaceably assembling for public demonstrations. For more than a decade, I have led an organization that has made its name by hosting gatherings, large and small, of citizen activists determined to make their voices heard on the issues of concern to them. I take a back seat to no one on the issue of speaking out and speaking up.

That said, I have never, ever protested outside the home of a justice or a political leader, nor would I. It goes without saying that I have never firebombed a leftist’s office, or threatened her children, either.

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There’s a time and a place for everything. State legislatures in Maryland and Virginia (where several of the justices live) have recognized that, and have enacted laws to protect domestic tranquility. Note – unlike a particular federal law enacted specifically to provide protection for judges and justices and court officers from being influenced while a case is pending (which Attorney General Merrick Garland failed to enforce for more than a month), these laws are not written specifically to protect judges or justices, or political leaders, for that matter; they are, rather, general laws written for the purpose of ensuring domestic tranquility in residential neighborhoods.

The Maryland statute, “Unlawful picketing and assembly,” helpfully explains in its preamble: “The General Assembly declares that: the protection and preservation of the home is the keystone of democratic government,” and “the public health and welfare and the good order of the community require that members of the community enjoy in their homes a feeling of well-being, tranquility, and privacy, and when absent from their homes, carry with them the sense of security inherent in the assurance that they may return to the enjoyment of their homes …" The operative section of the law reads, “A person may not intentionally assemble with another in a manner that disrupts a person’s right to tranquility in the person’s home.”

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The Virginia statute, “Picketing or disrupting tranquility of home,” reads, “Any person who shall engage in picketing before or about the residence or dwelling place of any individual, or who shall assemble with another person or persons in a manner which disrupts or threatens to disrupt any individual’s right to tranquility in his home, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.”

Those laws came into play earlier this month, when Gail Curley, the Marshal of the Supreme Court, wrote letters to the governors of Virginia and Maryland, and to county leaders in the two states, urging them to take the steps necessary to enforce those laws.

“For weeks on end, large groups of protesters chanting slogans, using bullhorns, and banging drums have picketed Justices’ homes in Maryland,” said her letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, which said “threatening activity” has increased. “Threatening activity”? Yes, there was that small incident of the man who flew across the country to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh but was apprehended outside the justice’s home before he could.

Our Founders gave judges and justices lifetime appointments for a simple reason – so they would be insulated from public pressure. Determining what is proper in the law is not a function of what is popular, but of what is Constitutional; insulation from public pressure is a necessary precondition to the ascertainment of what is just. The radical left, with its pressure campaign against the justices who have shown the courage to rule properly, aims to destroy that constitutional framework and put the justices on notice – rule the way we want, or live in fear for your safety and your family’s safety.

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After all, who needs to institute term limits or pack the Court when you can pressure a few justices into retiring early?

Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.

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