May 12, 2022 • 2M

Anti-abortion North Carolina man calls for arresting pro-choice protesters

Lance doesn't understand the law regarding judges' homes actually bans him and other right-wingers from protesting in front of a courthouse too.

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Michelangelo Signorile
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As the discussion over pro-choice protesters gathering in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices heats up, conservatives have been citing a 1950 federal statute in claiming its illegal to protest in front of of judges’ homes with the intent of influencing them.

And a man named Lance from North Carolina who is opposed to abortion called into my SiriusXM show, thinking he was going to pull a “gothcha” by citing the statute.

Nevermind that it is hard to prove that protesters are trying to “influence” a case rather simply expressing outrage at a ruling — or a draft ruling, in this case. The law, a McCarthy Era relic, actually bans such protests at or near any building where a judge or a jury would be, including their residences but also included the courthouse. That would include the Supreme Court, which has been the site of countless protests — including by anti-abortion activists — over the decades. Here’s the law, 18 U.S. Code § 1507, italics added for emphasis:

Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

So, theoretically, all of those people who protested at the Supreme Court against abortion broke the law. Yet only now, with pro-choice activists (in one example, one hundred protesters in Justice Kavanaugh’s neighborhood, who are his own neighbors), are we hearing calls to ban or lock up protesters, using a a McCarthy Era law meant to silence Americans. Even some Republicans are opposed to arresting the protesters — though not Senator Tom Cotton.

And this is coming from a right-wing that has been so absolutist on “free speech” that many, including Ted Cruz, defend on free speech grounds the January 6th insurrectionists, who of course engaged in destroying property and engaging in violence against police.

The courts have actually narrowed the scope of the 1950 statute, by the way, allowing banners or signs, for example, which I pointed to as well when Lance called in. Having lost his ability to pull a “gotcha” moment with me, Lance then went on to make some ridiculous statement promoting his anti-abortion views, to which I just had to say, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

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