The possible demise of Roe v. Wade revealed in a leaked draft of a majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is sure to provoke strong reactions on both sides of the abortion issue. However, one leftist group has crossed a societal line of propriety by calling for protests at the homes of the six conservative justices on the high court.
The group is going so far as to offer payments, which it is calling “stipends,” to those who show up.
The organization’s website, called “Ruth Sent Us,” includes a map with the locations of what purport to be the homes of Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, Thomas, Barrett, Gorsuch and Chief Justice Roberts. For that reason, we won’t be linking to the group’s website.
The protests are scheduled to last at least from May 8 to May 15, and perhaps go longer. It is supported by LGBT and feminist groups, Black Lives Matter, and immigration activists. The “Ruth” in “Ruth Sent Us” is supposed to signify the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pro-abortion justice.
At least one of the justices, Amy Coney Barrett, has young children.
Here’s my unsolicited advice to this group: Just. Stop. It.
Protesting at the Supreme Court or anywhere on public property in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere is well within your First Amendment rights. We get that. But attempting to intimidate Supreme Court justices by showing up at their homes and frightening their children as well as the rest of the neighborhood goes beyond the pale.
Justice Ginsburg herself would condemn you for what you’re doing. No matter how ardently she disagreed with her conservative colleagues over the law – including abortion – she remained friends with them. Indeed, stories of her friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia abound. Likewise with Clarence Thomas.
Carrie Severino is the President of the Judicial Crisis Network and a former law clerk to Justice Thomas.
On Twitter, Severino wrote, “And how would Justice Ginsburg really feel about the only mother on the current Court having her young children walk through a gauntlet of protesters on their way home from school?”
Leftist protestors over the years have resorted to violence and intimidation in an attempt to bully politicians, judges, and indeed, entire cities to get their way. What about the time protestors showed up at Sen. Josh Hawley’s home (who also has young children) or vandalized the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Have we forgotten what happened in the streets of Seattle and Portland in 2020 and 2021?
It also doesn’t help when political leaders use charged rhetoric to inflame mobs. Now is the time for cooler heads on the left and right to urge civility. We should all lead by example if we want to see an end to the divisiveness that characterizes our current cultural mood and, at times, spills over into questionable, and even dangerous, actions.
And, of course, bad behavior is not limited to the left. Passion and sentiment run deep on both sides of the abortion issue, and both have been guilty of crossing lines of decency and decorum at times.
Now is the time to learn from the mistakes of the past and vow not to repeat them.
Assuming the leaked Alito draft decision in Dobbs becomes a reality in the near future, take a lesson from Justice Ginsburg, who herself criticized the Roe decision. Be civil in your disagreements and play by the rules – both written and unwritten – of civil engagement. Just like she did when she suggested in 2020 that the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment had passed and those wishing to see the ERA become a constitutional amendment needed to start over.
Look at the big picture, rather than using unproductive sky-is-falling rhetoric.
After all, if Dobbs results in Roe and Casey being overturned, half the states will still support abortion. And those that restrict it may not restrict it completely. The whole point of the Alito draft, and the conservative judicial movement in general, is that the high court has usurped the role of state governments to determine policy on issues – such as abortion – where the Constitution is silent.
The pro-life movement is under no illusions that its work is finished even if Dobbs overturns Roe. We still want to convince hearts and minds everywhere that a pre-born life has value because he or she is made in the image of God. We won’t rest until it becomes unthinkable that a civil society like ours should engage in the wholesale slaughter of innocent human beings.
To the left, I say this: We understand that you might disagree with that. Here’s the solution, to paraphrase the late Justice Scalia: Convince your fellow citizens and work to pass a law. That’s what we intend to do, along with the practical work we’re already doing in pregnancy resource centers, faith-based foster and adoption agencies, and through countless churches who have quietly and generously been coming alongside moms and dads in need for years.
Mob rule and intimidation tactics are antithetical to the operation of a constitutional republic. We can all do better than that. Here’s hoping the protest group will reconsider its actions, and perhaps change its motto to, “Ruth Would Want Us to Be Civil.”
Photo from U.S. Supreme Court.