Supreme Court Marshal in letter urges Maryland officials to enforce anti-picket laws

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The Supreme Court’s top security guard has penned letters demanding that senior Maryland officials direct police to enforce laws “clearly forbidding picketing outside the homes of Supreme Court justices” after weeks of protests outside their homes in Montgomery County.

In two separate letters verified by the Washington Post, one to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the other to Montgomery County executive director Marc Elrich (D), Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley says protests and ” “Threatening activity” has increased at judges’ homes in Maryland since May.

“For weeks, large groups of protesters chanting slogans, using megaphones and beating drums have been picketing judges’ homes in Maryland,” the letter to Hogan said. “Earlier this week, for example, 75 protesters loudly went on strike outside a Maryland judge’s home for 20 to 30 minutes one night, then went on strike for 30 minutes outside another judge’s home, where the crowd grew to 100, and eventually returned to the First judge’s house picket for another 20 minutes. This is exactly the type of behavior that Maryland and Montgomery County laws prohibit.”

The Marshal cited Maryland law, which states that “[a] person shall not intentionally associate with another in a manner that interferes with a person’s right to quiet in the person’s home,” and this law “carries out a penalty of up to 90 days imprisonment or a $100 fine.” .

The July 1 letters also cite a Montgomery County statute that states: “[a] a person or group of people may not picket in front of or near a private home,” and a law stating that a group may march in a residential area “without stopping at a specific private home.”

Abortion rights advocates originally took to the streets outside judges’ houses after the Supreme Court delivered a draft opinion signaling it was planning a coup Roe v. calf was leaked to Politico in May. Protesters rallied outside homes again in June when the 49-year-old decision guaranteeing a person’s constitutional right to an abortion was officially overturned.

After the leaked draft was published, but before the court issued its opinion Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a California man was arrested near the Chevy Chase home of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and charged with attempted murder of a judge. Nicholas Roske is accused of flying to Maryland with a gun and burglary tools to break into Kavanaugh’s home and kill him. Prosecutors said he was upset about the leaked draft and the recent school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. Roske has pleaded not guilty.

“The Maryland and Montgomery County statutes provide the means to prevent picketing outside judges’ homes, and they should be enforced immediately,” said one of the letters from Curley, who is also leading the investigation into the Politico leak.

The ongoing demonstrations outside judges’ homes have sparked a legal debate over whether laws banning picketing outside judges’ private homes are constitutional.

As of Friday, it wasn’t immediately clear if officials or law enforcement had received the marshal’s letter or how they plan to respond to the request.

The Maryland State Police, the Montgomery County Police Department, spokesmen for Hogan and Elrich and the United States Supreme Court did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter Friday night.

The Montgomery County Police Department website says on its home page, “The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to upholding the first amendment rights of all individuals who wish to participate in peaceful, lawful protests and gatherings,” and links to a list of protest laws “um to help educate the community,” including those cited in the Supreme Court letters.

“Peaceful, lawful protests and assemblies are a cornerstone of our democracy,” the document said on the county police website.

Curley’s letters cited previous comments by Hogan and Elrich on protests at the Justices’ home, including a statement from a press release by Hogan that said, “We will continue to work with federal and local law enforcement officials to ensure these residential areas are safe.” .”

In the letter, addressed to Elrich, Curley said a request was made to the county police department in May to enforce Montgomery County’s ordinance.

The letter also cited a news report in which a Montgomery County official said people “can’t statically protest in front of someone’s house for political reasons” and that protesters are generally told they need to move and can’t stay in a single location a longer period. It also cited a letter from the author of the county ordinance, published in the Washington Post, urging the county executive and police department to enforce the law.

“It is against Montgomery County law to protest outside a person’s home about a matter involving a person’s work,” the letter, which quotes former City Councilwoman Gail Ewing, said. Supreme Court Marshal in letter urges Maryland officials to enforce anti-picket laws

James Brien

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