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County, governor slams protests outside judges’ homes

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Fairfax County officials have rejected a request by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhood of the county’s US Supreme Court justices after some faced protests outside their homes.

Youngkin, a Republican, made the request in a letter to the county board of supervisors Wednesday. “I fundamentally believe that such demonstrations and pickets should not be allowed in judges’ houses (sic) as they are intended to intimidate and influence the judges,” he wrote.

Three Supreme Court justices — Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, and Clarence Thomas — live in the county. Judges living both inside and outside the county have faced protests outside their homes since a draft of Alito’s opinion overturning the Roe v. Wade would pick up was leaked.

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Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said Youngkin’s request for a security perimeter was unnecessary and unreasonable. He said establishing a perimeter would amount to creating an unconstitutional “checkpoint” in the neighborhood that would violate First Amendment rights of protest. He also noted that the protests outside Alito’s home in the Fort Hunt neighborhood were peaceful.

“We will enforce laws designed to protect people and property,” McKay wrote. “Our officials are equally committed to protecting First Amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech.”

For its part, Fairfax County Police said through a spokeswoman that in response to reports of planned protests, they are providing additional personnel “to ensure the safety of the public while ensuring First Amendment rights are protected.”

Youngkin also joined Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in urging federal law enforcement to “take the lead and allocate sustained resources” to protect justice and ensure neighborhoods are safe in the weeks and weeks ahead months are safe.

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In a letter Addressing US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the governors called on the Justice Department to enforce a federal law prohibiting “pickets or parades” with intent to influence a judge.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement Wednesday that Garland would continue to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and justices. He noted that Garland had directed the US Marshals Service to assist the Supreme Court Marshal and Supreme Court Police.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/12/county-governor-spar-over-protests-at-justices-homes/ County, governor slams protests outside judges’ homes

Justin Scacco

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