Can you shout down Justice?

I don’t like the tactic of protesting in front of someone’s home — but I have done it myself. Since it was not at a judge’s residence, it was perfectly legal.

It was many years ago, when the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer were flush, actually rolling in the bucks produced by the staffs of the two papers.

U.S. Supreme Court behind protective barriers. (Photo: The New York Times)

Although up to $100 million a year was siphoned out of Philly — then Knight-Ridder’s top financial cow — the company’s offer to employees when a new contract came around was stingy.

I was a union officer — including decades when I was a shop steward (Stuart the Steward) — but I never wanted to be on the negotiating team because it required a level of patience I never acquired. It also required listening to lies from the company about how poor it was, when even a cub reporter could dig up the facts to prove that was not true.

One year, in desperation, we decided that we would picket the home of the publisher located on a particularly nice suburban street. We had picket signs and leaflets that we handed out to neighbors, who were generally unfriendly. Not surprisingly, they chose the man they knew over a bunch of scruffy, mouthy, poorly-dressed unionists, even though we did not use bullhorns and protested only in the early evening. We were civil, we made no threats. We knew where the line was.

So I understand the temptation.

There is a federal statute that prohibits demonstrations around judges’ offices and residences. But the language of the law is important. Here are the key points, courtesy of I have italicized key words and phrases:

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.


Any first-year law student knows the difficulty of proving intent, which exists only in a person’s mind. If they don’t admit to it, or you haven’t recorded them saying it, proving it is almost impossible. And ”near” is as vague as a word can be.

A prosecutor may ask why people are protesting if not to change a judge’s mind? The answer is obvious — they are protesting what they believe the Supreme Court will do, or has done. Realistically, protestors know they will not change the minds of Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. That’s a majority, even without Chief Justice John Roberts, who is not a conservative lock. The protestors were blowing off steam more than anything else.

I have seen few signs nor heard any actual threats against the Justices the past few days.

I did hear a threat two years ago, when a vote went the “wrong way” for Democrats. It went like this: 

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Those words were shouted by Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer in 2020. A real gem, he is.

It was a threat, but was it a threat of actual violence? 

The liberal press had no more of a problem with him than it did with the violent riots that rocked the nation that summer.

Back to today.

I believe the federal statute is unconstitutional . 

The First Amendment (I am adding italics): “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

The “where” is not mentioned, only the “why” and “how.” The right to assemble is as loose as Uncle Pete’s boxer shorts.

So far, no one has been arrested at these protests.

The law should be tested, and that will happen after a prosecutor arrests protestors.

They will go to court, there will be appeals.

In the end, it will be decided where?

At the U.S. Supreme Court, the very institution whose Justices are under attack.

Ain’t that a hoot?

Wait — there’s more.

Since each Justice has a direct, personal interest in this case, all nine should recuse themselves.

Where do we go from there?

20 thoughts on “Can you shout down Justice?”

  1. Thoroughly enyoyed, Stu. The Left is lucky they live in this great country. Where else could their extreme means of protesting be protected? “A republic, if you can keep it,” Ben Franklin supposedly opined. The intent by many on their side is the opposite! Indeed, that is what we are dealing with in these grave and dangerous times.

  2. It would be interesting to see the coverage from the press IF conservatives would gather in mass, in front of the liberal judges homes, asking for their support the ban.

      1. The one thing I’ve observed during the Trump Era is that when conservatives are accused of anything by the left(liberals), you can be sure they are the guilty.

  3. The most powerful of the three arms of government is SCOTUS. The SCOTUS can stop a law, stop a president, stop a nation — and decide what sort of picketing is legal and what is not. That’s why Hitler seized control of the German courts as one of his first acts as dictator. That’s why both the Right and the Left want to control the SCOTUS.

      1. Actually, it’s the States that can change the Constitution (if I remember correctly). It was the States that failed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Congress cannot change the Constitution.

          1. Congress proposes, but only the states have the authority to amend. Semantics (unless one is anti-semantic).

  4. While I fully support anyone’s right to protest, I struggle with the issue of when does your right to protest supersede my right to access public transportation or a building that’s being blocked or living peacefully in my own home? What issue makes your rights more important than mine. I have always held that your rights are guaranteed until they infringe on someone elses.

    What would Shelby do ? In his non-gentle way, he would rant and rave and organize a protest against the protesters .
    As you point out. Words and their meaning is everything. The difference with today’s protestors compared to those of before, is that these people are advised by lawyers.
    And to quote biden. We’re not doing nothing………………………..

  6. I agree and lean heavily on the ability of anyone to peacefully protest what decision or result that the court may render. My question is on the ability of justices of the Supreme Court to logically and legally pass decisions that affect 280 million people in a physical vacuum. When the court decides on a five to four vote where one swing vote directly dictates that all the citizens must abide by in the future. When a Justice is appointed to the court they enter their workplace with a permanent job for life. They are assigned 24-hour federal martial protection. They all are given a free membership to the most prestigious country clubs in America. They have their own elevator, their own chauffeur-driven vehicle, they are guided away from interplay with the public and then go to work by listening to the pleadings of fellow lawyers using case history and the latest evidence to make their case to show what opinion should be made into the new law. At no stage of the process is any input made from the man on the street or the direct testimony of those affected by their decision. The court then becomes a concubine where any outside influence other than legalize is gone the first day of the appointment so public access is non-existent.

      1. I set aside the 50 million who comprise non-voters, gullible media followers, blind allegiance voters, criminal protestors and a sizeable number of bigots from both racial groups.
        (My bad, I started to look it up and got a phone call.)

  7. I set aside the 50 million who comprise non-voters, gullible media followers, blind allegiance voters, criminal protestors and a sizeable number of bigots from both racial groups.
    (My bad, I started to look it up and got a phone call.)

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