US Marshals assigned to protect Supreme Court justices’ homes following the reversal of Roe v. Wade last year were told “not” to arrest protesters “unless absolutely necessary,” according to newly revealed documents.
Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) unveiled a series of slides used to prepare Marshals for their assignments as she grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
The slides instructed the Marshals to “avoid, unless absolutely necessary, any criminal enforcement” involving protesters and that “making arrests and initiating prosecutions was not the goal” of their being stationed outside the residences of the court’s six conservative jurists.
Britt noted that the word “not” in the slide was italicized and underlined for emphasis.
Another slide directed Marshals not to “engage [in] protest-related enforcement” and to allow the protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights except to protect the justices and their families.
Britt said the slides were obtained from a Justice Department whistleblower who objected to Garland’s March 1 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At that hearing, Garland insisted that Marshals were empowered to decide in the field whether to make arrests.
“Were you, at any point before your testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee, aware of these training materials or the fact that the marshals had been heavily discouraged from making arrests … ?” Britt asked Garland.
”This is the first time I’ve seen the slide deck,” the AG responded, noting he was the first attorney general to ever order Marshals to protect the justices at their homes around the clock.
Garland went on to say that protecting the justices was the Marshals’ “principal responsibility” but that wouldn’t stop them from “bringing other kinds of arrests.”
“It is clear when you look at these slides, the Marshals were not given those directives,” Britt told Garland. “I would like for you to take a look at that.”
Federal law makes it illegal to picket or parade near a judge’s residence with the intent to interfere, obstruct or impede the administration of justice. Conservatives and Republicans have repeatedly demanded to know why no protesters were arrested or charged under the statute this past summer.
The high court by a 6-3 ruling overturned the landmark Roe decision legalizing abortion nationwide on June 24, 2022, sparking protests and rallies that soon spread from the Supreme Court building to the nation’s streets and eventually to the conservative justices’ homes outside Washington.
On more than one occasion, protesters stood outside Justice Clarence Thomas’ residence shouting “no privacy for us, no peace for you.”
They also gathered around the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito — who authored the opinion overturning Roe, John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch.
A California man, Nicholas Roske, was arrested outside of Kavanaugh’s home in early June by US Marshals after he hatched a plot to kill the justice following the leak of Alito’s draft opinion the previous month.