House Republicans probe DOJ for info on reluctance to enforce federal law amid protests at justices' homes
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EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Committee Republicans are probing the Department of Justice for information regarding how the agency plans to enforce federal laws protecting judges, after a leaked draft opinion signaling the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade sparked large pro-choice protests.
Garland was initially silent on continued protests by activists outside conservative Supreme Court justices' homes over the last week, despite a federal law that makes it illegal to attempt to "influence" federal officials and the outcome of a court case, but DOJ addressed the protests in a statement Wednesday.
"Attorney General Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices," Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said.
"The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police."
Federal U.S. code 1507, states that any individual who "pickets or parades" 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" near a U.S. court or "near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer" will be fined, or "imprisoned not more than one year, or both."
Attorney General Merrick Garland addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington on Jan. 21, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland Friday led by committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., the lawmakers ask DOJ for details on its efforts to "enforce federal laws protecting the integrity of the Supreme Court."
"In the wake of the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion on a matter currently pending before the Supreme Court, a reactionary wave of violence by radical idealogues has descended upon the country, as crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life organizations and churches have been vandalized and subject to arson attacks and theft of sacred objects," the lawmakers write.
They continue: "Other protestors are picketing at Supreme Court Justices’ family residences with the goal of influencing or intimidating the Justices. This likely violates federal law, notwithstanding the Biden Administration and other prominent Democrats stating their support for these unlawful actions. We request further information regarding steps the Justice Department is taking to enforce federal law and ensure the protection of Supreme Court Justices."
Rep. James Comer questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Aug. 24, 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool)
The Republicans demand that DOJ must "stand firm" against attempts to illegally influence the justices, and are asking the department about any open investigations into protestors who may have violated the law.
"It is unclear whether the Justice Department has been investigating or prosecuting any cases related to the current protests at the Justices’ homes. The recent leaked draft opinion has the potential to undermine the ability of Justices to deliberate on cases of national import. Our system of law and order must stand firm against any illegal attempts to intimidate Justices by mobbing their neighborhoods."
DOJ did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment on the Republicans' letter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing at the Capitol, April 26, 2022. (Greg Nash/Pool Photo via AP)
The department has come under criticism for inaction on the protests at justices' home after it immediately sprung into action and directed the FBI to investigate "threats of violence" at school board meetings last fall in order to combat alleged threats against school officials by angry parents.
Garland's directive came just days after the National School Board Association (NSBA) wrote a letter to Biden asking his administration to treat parent protests at school board meetings as possible acts of "domestic terrorism."
Vandals targeted at least five pro-life crisis pregnancy centers across the U.S. since the leak of the draft opinion, and Catholic churches have been threatened and vandalized.
The Supreme Court is expected to release the official opinion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization by July.