Protests outside homes of Supreme Court Justices bring scope of civil liberties into focus

TOPSHOT - A cross is seen on top of a church steeple as pro-choice demonstrators march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
TOPSHOT - Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
Pro-choice demonstrators march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
Police look on as candles left by pro-choice demonstrators sit outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
An on-looker records on their phone as pro-choice demonstrators march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. - The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill -- a process likely doomed to fail -- after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court's readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 09: Abortion-rights advocates stage a protest outside U.S. Associated Justice Samuel Alito's house on May 09, 2022 in Alexandria, Virginia. In a leaked initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico and authenticated by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey should be overturned, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 09: Abortion-rights advocates stage a protest outside U.S. Associated Justice Samuel Alito's house on May 09, 2022 in Alexandria, Virginia. In a leaked initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico and authenticated by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey should be overturned, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 09: Abortion-rights advocates light candles during a protest outside U.S. Associated Justice Samuel Alito's house on May 09, 2022 in Alexandria, Virginia. In a leaked initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico and authenticated by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey should be overturned, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 09: Abortion-rights advocates light candles during a protest outside U.S. Associated Justice Samuel Alito's house on May 09, 2022 in Alexandria, Virginia. In a leaked initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico and authenticated by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey should be overturned, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 09: Abortion-rights advocates light candles during a protest outside U.S. Associated Justice Samuel Alito's house on May 09, 2022 in Alexandria, Virginia. In a leaked initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico and authenticated by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey should be overturned, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.
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Protesters outside the homes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices have been the focus of debate over when and where First Amendment rights can be exercised.

On Monday night, some 100 people gathered outside Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s home in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, Virginia.

Abortion rights protesters chanted, “Abort the court!” and the rally lasted around 20 minutes amid heavy police presence, according to WTOP news partner NBC Washington.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said that Virginia State Police and Fairfax County police, as well as federal authorities, would be assisting to “ensure there isn’t violence.”



Meanwhile, groups of protesters who are upset over the court’s leaked draft decision on abortion have been gathering outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Montgomery County.

The protesters, who support abortion rights, have been chanting and marching on sidewalks outside the homes and holding up signs.

Lt. Peter Davidov, with the Montgomery County Police Department, said that county code and Maryland law both have prohibitions about picketing a particular private residence, which does not mean you can’t protest in a residential neighborhood, “but you cannot picket at a particular residence.”

Davidov said protesters in residential areas can be in public spaces, “where you can be lawfully present without impeding people’s ability to go about freely.” That means protesters can be on sidewalks in residential neighborhoods, but they can’t block them.

“You can’t basically blockade the sidewalk; you have to keep moving. So you can walk back and forth,” Davidov said.

As of Monday afternoon, no citations or arrests had been made involving the protesters.

Earlier Monday, Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, said in a statement, “The governor directed state law enforcement leaders to work with local and federal partners and be prepared to assist in the event there is a need for increased security and protective measures.”

Ricci said those measures included coordination between Maryland State Police, the state’s Coordination and Analysis Center, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Supreme Court Police and Montgomery and Prince George’s county police departments.

On Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the right to protest “should never include violence, threats or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their public safety.”

On its webpage, the ACLU of Maryland advises that picketing in residential areas “can be considered disturbing the peace depending on the time of day and the volume.”

The ACLU also advises, “If a lawful order to disperse is given by police and you don’t comply, you may be arrested even if you are not doing anything else illegal.”

There also is a federal law that prohibits pickets or parades at any judge’s residence, with the intent of influencing a jurist. But it is unclear whether it’s being enforced.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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