Is the next insurrection coming to the Supreme Court?

AP Photo/Anna Johnson

I don’t foresee any presidential-led plots aimed at intimidating the Court into upholding Roe, replete with Biden dialing up Brett Kavanaugh and warning him not to be a “pussy.”

Nor do I anticipate Biden urging rabid liberals to show up en masse at the Court for a “wild” demonstration.

And just as it’s foolish and counterproductive for anti-Trumpers to compare January 6 to 9/11, I think it’s counterproductive for those worried about threats to the Court to reach for an insurrection analogy.

But WaPo columnist Jason Willick is right to worry about a “January 6 moment” happening to SCOTUS. If a justice were to be assassinated by some lunatic hoping to prevent the Court from overturning Roe, it would be historically wrenching for the country. It would differ from the insurrection in kind, the handiwork of one disturbed individual instead of thousands. But the goal of using violence to prevent a branch of the federal government from lawfully carrying out momentous work would be similar.

Democrats have spent years rhetorically delegitimizing the Court in their pique over Merrick Garland’s treatment and the resulting lopsided right-wing majority, Willick writes. That created tacit permission for other transgressions, like protesters showing up to the justices’ homes. Maybe inevitably, a few days ago a nut arrived outside Kavanaugh’s home hoping to commit the ultimate transgression.

There’s no organized plot here as there was with the insurrection. But if endless inflammatory chatter leads to a member of the Court being shot, another piece of America’s civic facade will crumble.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who last month on Twitter described the Supreme Court majority as “stolen, illegitimate and far-right,” is emerging as one of the most dogged demagogues in the Jan. 6 sequel. Two weeks ago, he repeated his claim that the court was “illegitimate” in an address before a crowd of protesters in Washington. He called for court-packing to “get back the two stolen seats” (apparently Gorsuch’s and Barrett’s).

What’s the difference between pronouncing a duly elected president illegitimate and declaring the same about duly confirmed justices of the high court? For some liberals, it’s simply that they agree with the latter claim. The merits of such grievances are beside the point. The significant parallel is that partisan extremists, fearing the loss of ideological control over a branch of government, seek to fundamentally attack and nullify its authority…

The Jan. 6 assault on the election failed, and officials are establishing deterrence against a replay. Yet the parallel political campaign to undermine the Supreme Court is building with much of elite Washington’s approval. If Republicans take control of Congress in 2023, the Senate and House judiciary committees should take immediate aim at efforts to interfere with the court. The Jan. 6 committee can be a partial model.

The DOJ has yet to prosecute anyone for protesting near a justice’s home, notes Willick, even though doing so is banned by federal law. And the House still hasn’t acted on a bill to increase security for Supreme Court employees, although Pelosi is promising to take it up early next week. The justices will have security, she claims. The question is whether other employees will too.

At last check, Biden had yet to speak publicly about the attempt on Kavanaugh’s life.

Many have noted how little coverage the assassination bid has gotten in major media, far less than it would have received if a liberal justice had been the target of a right-wing nutter. The increasing harassment of pro-life activists as we approach a ruling on Dobbs is also being overlooked by most press, though. The Dispatch has a look at that trend today:

A Mother’s Day arson attack using Molotov cocktails damaged the Madison office of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life lobbying group. “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either,” read graffiti on the outside of the building. In Keizer, Oregon, one individual threw two Molotov cocktails at the Oregon Right to Life office building, leading to a small fire that damaged the building’s exterior, according to local police.

Kristi Hamrick, a spokesperson for Students for Life Action, told The Dispatch that street activists are increasingly becoming targets for abortion advocates. “We are finding a sharp increase in violence from those who go into the streets to agitate for the violence of abortion,” reports Hamrick, noting the recent attacks and harassment of pro-life activists.

After the investigation into the Wisconsin arson, Jane’s Revenge claimed responsibility for the fire, sharing a communique via Tor with a reporter at Bellingcat, Robert Evans. Evans later posted quotes from the file on Twitter. “This was only a warning,” the communique reads, asserting that its authors “are forced to adopt the minimum military requirement for a political struggle.” It also carries threats of further violence. “Wisconsin is the first flashpoint, but we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings.”

There’s more at the link. Campuses are growing more tense too.

Politico has an interesting gloss on lefty rage over the Court today, focusing on activists who’ve directed their anger about the 6-3 conservative majority not at Brett Kavanaugh or even Mitch McConnell but at … Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yes, yes, she’s an icon and a liberal hero, they allow, but she was also “extraordinarily self-centered” in refusing to retire during Obama’s eight years as president, as one put it. Ginsburg was 75 when Obama was sworn in; if she had retired at the start of his second term, she would have had 20 years on the Court. Instead she hung on and ended up with chronic health problems into her late 80s. She *almost* survived the Trump administration anyway, but not quite, and now Amy Coney Barrett will hold that seat for 30 years or more. “She gambled,” said one law professor of Ginsburg not retiring sooner. “But she didn’t just gamble with herself. She gambled with the rights of my daughter and my granddaughter. And unfortunately, that’s her legacy. I think it’s tragic.”