More police than protesters stood outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on Wednesday, as law enforcement prepares for an even bigger presence on the day the high court releases an opinion concerning abortion rights.
Neighbors were quizzing law enforcement about what can be done to counter the disturbance in the Chevy Chase neighborhood outside Washington.
One neighbor, visibly shaking, told The Washington Times she was “fed up” with police not doing anything to deter the noise.
Another neighbor said the protesters were “aggressive” and used “foul language.”
“They want confrontation,” one neighbor said. “It’s disruptive, for sure.”
A Montgomery County police officer assured concerned residents that they were ready for the ruling to be released and would have even more officers present then.
He said the county attorney wasn’t looking at any laws being broken since the protesters move out of the way for cars, but that they are examining if noise ordinances are being violated since the protesters show up with speakers and drums.
“Don’t want it to become a situation where they push back and they have bigger speakers,” the officer said.
It is a federal crime to protest at a federal judge’s home to influence a decision, and the lack of arrests on that score has perturbed Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The Washington Times counted at least 17 law enforcement officers lined up outside the house, which appeared vacant. There was a mix of Montgomery County officers and U.S. Marshals.
A relative of the justice’s family stopped by to check in on the residence during Wednesday’s protest, which was brief.
The protesters moved through the street quickly, but one officer said it usually lasts anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
They chanted, “No privacy for us, no peace for you.”
Pro-choice protesters have been appearing outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices since a leaked draft opinion indicated that the high court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion a federal constitutional right.
The justices are weighing Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Mississippi officials argued that Roe should be overturned because it’s outdated. The state said the viability standard set out in Roe was unclear, and Mississippi had an interest in banning abortions after 15 weeks to protect women’s health and unborn children.
The legal battle was brought by Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, and a doctor who provides abortions. According to court papers, the clinic had provided abortions up to 16 weeks of gestation.
They challenged the state’s Gestational Age Act, enacted in 2018. The law banned abortions after 15 weeks unless there is a medical emergency or severe abnormality within the fetus.
The abortion providers told the court in their filing that the state’s interest in the woman’s health and children doesn’t begin until viability, which occurs “months” after the 15-week marker set in the law.
In the draft opinion leaked to Politico last month, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said abortion laws should return to the state legislatures.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” he wrote. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
“It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” reads the opinion, which was dated in February.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the draft opinion was authentic but noted that it did not represent a final ruling. He ordered the court’s marshal to investigate who leaked the document.
It was the first time a full draft opinion has been leaked in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history.
The official ruling is expected to be released by the end of June.
Republican senators have pushed for Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against the protesters.
They said the political environment is becoming increasingly dangerous after a California man was arrested last week in front of Justice Kavanaugh’s home where he planned to kill the justice, angry over the upcoming ruling on abortion as well as recent mass shootings.
A spokesperson from the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.