Supreme Court Marshal Asks Elrich to Protect Justices who Live in County

The Supreme Court’s security force called on County Executive Marc Elrich to enforce anti-picketing laws following an uptick in protests outside the homes of multiple justices in Montgomery County.

“For weeks on end, large groups of protestors chanting slogans, using bullhorns, and banging drums have picketed outside Justice’s homes in Montgomery County,” wrote Gail Curley, marshal of the court, in a letter addressed to Elrich on July 1. “This is exactly the kind of conduct that the Maryland and Montgomery County laws prohibit.”

The county rule referenced by Curley states, “[a] person or group of persons must not picket in front of or adjacent to any private residence.” Similarly, Maryland law prohibits organized protest outside of someone’s home if it disrupts the “right to tranquility.” Both laws hold the possibility of imprisonment of violators.

The letter’s request follows an increase in “threatening activity,” said Curley. U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the target of an attempted assassination at his Montgomery County home in early June. The defendant claimed that he was motivated by concern over the Second Amendment and the then-potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to an FBI affidavit.

In response to Curley, Elrich expressed dismay about discussing security concerns publicly. Elrich also suggested that the security of the justices is primarily the responsibility of the federal government. It is unclear whether Elrich intends to take the action that the court requests.

Governor Larry Hogan, who also received a request from the court, echoed a letter he wrote in May to Attorney General Merrick Garland, stating that federal security forces must provide more resources because Maryland’s anti-picketing law is potentially unconstitutional. Hogan’s May letter was instigated by protests following a leaked draft opinion that the court would nix abortion precedents.

In light of Curley’s letter, Hogan instructed the Maryland State Police to “further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution,” said Michael Ricci, spokesperson for the governor.

“Multiple federal entities” have refused to provide more protection despite Hogan’s concerns, said Ricci.

Unlike Hogan, Elrich stands for reelection this year. Moreover, Elrich has made abortion rights a central issue in his campaign and has participated in protests since the court’s decision in late June.

We are going to strike back and take a stand against those who deny women the rights they should have,” Elrich wrote in a tweet on July 1.

Elrich also prohibited county officials from traveling at taxpayer expense to select states that threaten to implement heavy or total abortion restrictions.

In a press release following the Roe v. Wade reversal, Elrich stated that some justices had “lied” that Roe v. Wade was established law during confirmation hearings, implying the then-nominees actually harbored intentions to overturn the decision.

Protests over the Supreme Court’s end of term opinions swept across the country throughout June and into July. The court adjudicated on climate, guns and abortion, all hot-button issues. 

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will join the court next term. She is an appointee of President Joe Biden.

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