Saunders: Biden should decry mobs harassing court justices

Though they try, there’s no justification for harassing jurists — and their neighbors — at their homes.

By Debra J. Saunders / syndicated columnist

The flyer urging activists to protest in front of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s Maryland home offers two reasons for violating the privacy of a public servant and his family.

The first: President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch.

The message is clear: Any individuals successfully nominated to the Supreme Court by a Republican president now knows that they will have no zone of privacy. Their homes will become protest zones. Their neighbors will endure the noise that becomes part of the justices’ daily lives. Their children will grow up with security guards in the front yard.

The group calls itself “Ruth Sent Us,” a supposed homage to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg known for her across-the-aisle collegiality. Irony is wasted on these zealots.

Yes, Congress just passed a measure to extend protective security for the justices’ families. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had delayed a vote on the measure for weeks after the Senate passed the bill, even after a heavily armed would-be assassin turned up nearby Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home. Nicholas John Roske turned himself in when he got spooked at U.S. Marshals patrolling the area.

Alas, the new law, which President Joe Biden is expected to sign, cannot leach the poison from a toxic culture.

When he won in 2020, Biden said, “It’s time for our better angels to prevail.” But he hasn’t tried to deescalate the rancor as the country descends into two ideological camps.

Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the homefront protests as “peaceful.”

Monday press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration condemned violence, but she would not weigh in for or against protests in front of justices’ homes.

Let us not forget the precipitating event: the leak in Politico of a draft of a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade written by Justice Samuel Alito. The leak was a political act that brought an end to the big bench’s pose as an apolitical entity.

The second rationale for protesting in front of certain justice’s homes:

“Seat stolen from President Obama.”

Yes, in February 2016, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would not schedule hearings to confirm Obama’s pick to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia within hours of Scalia’s death.

But it wasn’t stealing to not hold a hearing for Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, who was never going to pull 51 votes in a GOP-controlled Senate during a presidential election year.

Kavanaugh had the votes in the GOP Senate, so Democrats destroyed his reputation with unsubstantiated smears that crumbled under scrutiny. A mob has haunted Kavanaugh ever since. Ruth Sent Us organizes activists to protest in front of the homes of the six justices picked by GOP presidents. The mob doesn’t care about justice or civility. The mob doesn’t care how this conflict ends. And apparently, neither does Joe Biden.

Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Email her at dsaunders@discovery.org.

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