Grassley: DOJ needs ‘robust response’ to protests at justices’ homes after action on parents last year

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EXCLUSIVE: Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley is accusing Attorney General Merrick Garland of hypocrisy for a slow response to protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, after mobilizing quickly for alleged threats to school boards last year.

Grassley, R-Iowa, made allegation in a letter to Garland Wednesday. He demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) enforce a federal law that makes it illegal to “picket or parade” outside a courthouse or a judge’s residence “with the intent of influencing any judge… in the discharge of his duty.”

Pro-choice protesters have been picketing outside conservative justices homes all week after a leaked draft opinion reported by Politico appeared to show the court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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“After this administration chose to publicly and vigorously marshal the Justice Department’s resources in response to a letter from the administration’s allies on school boards, the tepid response to the demonstrations against the justices has been deeply concerning,” Grassley said.

“It took this administration just five days to forcefully respond to a letter concerning the supposedly grave risk posed by parents seeking to have a say in how their children are taught in schools. The serious threats to the Supreme Court demand no less of a robust response.”

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks to the media as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol on April 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Senate returned today from a two-week recess. 

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 25: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks to the media as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol on April 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Senate returned today from a two-week recess.  ((Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images))

“Instead of investigating and prosecuting this illegal activity, the administration has been sadly dismissive of the threats and danger to both the justices and our judicial system writ large,” Grassley also wrote.

The senator expressed “grave disappointment” over the administration’s handling of the protests, which he said are meant to “undermine the independence of the judiciary and influence judges through protests at their homes.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on January 5, 2022 in Washington, DC. 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on January 5, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Carolyn Kaster-Pool/Getty Images)

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The Justice Department did not initially address the protests earlier this week, but commented on the matter Wednesday afternoon. 

“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 in a statement Wednesday evening as a pro-choice group is set to march on the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices.

SCOTUS Roe v. Wade Protest

SCOTUS Roe v. Wade Protest (Fox News)

The statement added, “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.”

A spokesperson for Grassley said that the Justice Department’s statement came after the letter was transmitted to the DOJ. 

Protesters, organized by a group called Ruth Sent Us, are expected outside the justices’ homes again Wednesday.

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The Supreme Court is expected to release its final opinion in the abortion case before it, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, by early July.

Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report. 

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