Because … there’s another human life at stake in abortion?
If keeping protesters away from the homes of Supreme Court justices meant that some innocent person would die as a result, then I agree, we’d have to think much harder about the balance of equities.
As it is, I’m for a broad “don’t let mobs make public servants and their families feel unsafe in their own homes” rule in American politics.
You’ll see below that Hostin isn’t condoning this weekend’s protests, exactly, allowing that it’s “terrible” if true that the Alito family was moved to a secure location for their own safety. (It might not be true.) But she seems sweet on the idea of protesters communicating to the justices in extravagant ways the extent of their displeasure about the tentative holding in the Dobbs case. Which means:
1. She supports the leak. If not for the leak, after all, those protests outside Roberts’s and Kavanaugh’s homes this weekend wouldn’t have happened.
2. She thinks the justices are dummies who didn’t consider the degree of social upheaval that might greet the end of Roe until they experienced the burst of outrage that followed the leak.
At one point in the clip she hopes that the protests and general “outcry” might give John Roberts a bit more leverage in convincing one of the justices in the majority to take a more moderate view. That sounds uncannily like wishing that some member of the Court will feel physically intimidated into changing their views. But even if you give Hostin, who’s an attorney, the benefit of the doubt and presume that she meant she wants the justices to feel persuaded by the message of the protesters, not frightened by the assembly outside their homes, it’s no way for a lawyer to argue. A constitutional ruling should be based on the Court’s view of the law and nothing else. We give federal judges life tenure for a reason, to insulate them from angry majorities. They’re not supposed to be influenced by public pressure. Rather the opposite.
We don’t lobby courts in America, we lobby legislators. But then, if there’s any case known for confusing those two roles, it’s Roe.
Jen Psaki was offered a do-over by the press at today’s White House briefing about whether it’s appropriate to protest at a public servant’s private home. Disgracefully, she dodged that question when it was put to her last week. Now that it’s no longer hypothetical, she’s willing to condemn any violence or vandalism committed against pro-lifers — while noting that there’s been no violence or vandalism against any justice.
Which is her way of saying that she’s fine with “peaceful” protests at the justices’ homes, I guess.
Jen Psaki refuses to condemn the leaking of the Supreme Court draft opinion.
Goes on to say of violence at churches and pro-life centers "we understand the passion, we understand the concern but it should be peaceful." pic.twitter.com/E2GBgMVV0C
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 9, 2022
I repeat what I said yesterday: There’s no such thing as a truly peaceful protest outside a person’s home, where their children live. If you’re willing to track down a public official’s address and show up there, you’re signaling unmistakably that there are certain norms of civil society which you’ll no longer observe in your zeal to assert your political views. And implicit in that, just as unmistakably, is that if you’re willing to cross one line there may be others you’re willing to cross.
It’s an act of intimidation, every time. And it’s embarrassing that President Norms hasn’t spoken out against it more forcefully. More from the Washington Post:
To be sure, such tactics have a longer history: One of the ugliest manifestations was the antiabortion movement’s widespread deployment of pickets at the homes of abortion providers. What begins as peaceful protests can degenerate into violence: The oft-picketed author of Roe itself, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, was startled one evening in 1985 by the sound of a bullet shattering his Arlington apartment’s window.
To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary. Critics of reversing Roe maintain, defensibly, that to overturn such a long-standing precedent would itself violate core judicial principles. Yet if basic social consensus and the rule of law are to be sustained — and if protesters wish to maximize their own persuasiveness — demonstrations against even what many might regard as illegitimate rulings must respect the rights of others. And they must be lawful.
Exit question for Hostin: If Kavanaugh flipped and became the fifth vote to uphold Roe but then issued a statement saying, “I voted as I did only because I feared for my family,” would that outcome be acceptable? I sense that a lot of lefties would find it tolerable, if maybe not optimal, from a ruthless ends-justify-the-means standpoint.