Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has vowed to have his state stand for the Constitution in protecting the independence of Supreme Court justices from threatening protests, but the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors effectively said not on my watch.
Youngkin, a Republican, requested a “security perimeter” around the homes of the justices, but Chairman Jeff McKay, a Democrat, fired back a political salvo in a letter Wednesday.
“Below is a letter I sent to Gov. Youngkin in response to request for a ‘security perimeter’ around the homes of SCOTUS judges in FFX Co,” McKay tweeted, with a copy of the letter telling the governor no way. “My focus is on public safety and protecting constitutional rights of our citizens. I know the well-trained FCPD professionals can ensure both.”
The letter argued that a security perimeter would not be provided by Fairfax County.
“We will enforce laws that serve protect persons and property,” McKay wrote. “Our police officers are equally committed the protecting the First Amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech. These two endeavors are not mutually exclusive.
“Your suggestion to establish a ‘perimeter’ for the purposes of ‘limiting unauthorized vehicle and pedestrian access’ to neighborhoods surrounding the homes of the justices is paramount to a checkpoint that federal courts have held violates the Fourth Amendment. There are obvious First Amendment concerns as well.”
But Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have argued that “pickets and parades” at the homes of Supreme Court justices is in itself a violation of law.
“Trying to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is far outside the bounds of First Amendment speech or protest,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.
“It is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs.”
McConnell and others are noting there are already laws on the books against protests intended to influence a Supreme Court decision.
“It appears this may possibly be flat-out illegal,” McConnell continued. “There is a federal law on the books that criminalizes quote, ‘pickets or parades’ end quote, with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer at locations — listen to this — that included a judge’s residence.”
Republicans have long argued that Democrats not enforcing the law under President Joe Biden is not unusual, particularly on illegal immigration at the southern border and the lax enforcement of laws in cities run by Democrats, such as New York.