Freshman senator exposes the truth: U.S. Marshals told not to arrest protesters outside justices' homes

Photo/Butch Dill

Freshman Senator Katie Britt (R-AL) exposed an inconvenient truth Tuesday during a budget hearing. Attorney General Merrick Garland was questioned during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about the fact that U.S. Marshals guarding the homes of Supreme Court justices have been instructed not to arrest protesters even though Garland previously claimed that the marshals have a free hand when it comes to making arrests.


Senator Britt came with proof that the marshals are instructed in the training package that arrests of protesters outside of the homes of Supreme Court justices are not priorities. The protests are regularly held outside the homes of the conservative Supreme Court justices in response to the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v Wade. Ever since a draft was deliberately leaked last spring that indicated the Court would overturn Roe v Wade, protesters have violated a federal statute that outlaws protesting at a judge’s home with the intent to influence a ruling. That is exactly what the protesters are doing.

In today’s highly-charged political atmosphere, such protests have the potential to turn deadly. Last June, local police arrested an armed man who traveled from California to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in suburban Maryland with the intention to kill him. He told police he was angry about the Supreme Court’s decisions on abortion and guns. He was charged in federal court with seeking to assassinate the Supreme Court justice. That incident highlighted the potential danger the justices and their families are in while they are in their homes. Congress approves additional security for the justices.

Merrick Garland came to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing to ask for funding for the enhanced security authorized last year for the justices and their families by the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He said that he hopes the enhanced security won’t be provided indefinitely by the marshals. DOJ hopes to turn the job over to the Supreme Court Police at some point.


“We’re hoping this isn’t a long-term solution for the justices, because there are a lot of courts around the country,” the attorney general said. “And the marshals have traditional security responsibilities — and that’s to say nothing of their fugitive apprehension responsibilities.”

It sounds as though protecting Supreme Court justice is an inconvenience for the Department of Justice, doesn’t it? Gosh, that’s too bad. Protecting the highest level of the judicial branch of the government should be an obvious priority for the Justice Department. Honestly, I am regularly reminded of what a bullet we dodged with Mitch McConnell’s masterful work in the Senate to deny Merrick Garland a seat on the Supreme Court. His performance as attorney general has been an eye-opener. Garland often comes off as a bumbling lightweight lacking the intellectual capacity needed at the highest court in the land. We owe McConnell our thanks.

Garland claims he had no idea that guidance in the training material instructs the marshals not to make arrests outside the homes of the justices. That admission contradicts his insistence in earlier testimony that the marshals are free to make arrests but they don’t see the need to do so. So, Senator Britt confronted Garland during Tuesday’s hearing. She provided the training package material as evidence that Garland was less than forthcoming about the potential for arrests. It’s not that the marshals don’t think it is necessary to make arrests, it’s that the marshals are specifically instructed not to make arrests. That’s a crucial distinction.


Conservatives have argued the protests, which erupted after a draft of a major abortion-rights ruling leaked last spring, violate a federal statute that outlaws protesting against a judge’s home with the intent of influencing a ruling.

Nobody was charged under that statute.

Mr. Garland told senators earlier this month that his prosecutors couldn’t bring cases unless the marshals made arrests, and the marshals on the scene didn’t think there was a reason to do that.

Ms. Britt said the guidance documents show they were directed not to.

“They were actively discouraged from doing so,” she said.

One section of the guidance specifically said making arrests was “not the goal” of the deployment, and another section said arrests should be “a last resort to prevent physical harm.”

The marshals are discouraged from making arrests because the statute could invite legal challenges. That implies the DOJ is more concerned about potential lawsuits than the personal safety of Supreme Court justices and their families in their own homes. That’s crazy but here we are. This is Biden’s America. The personal safety of the Supreme Court justices and their families should not be a partisan concern. Why aren’t liberals speaking out about this? Why did it take a freshman senator to bring evidence to Garland’s attention that he is either under a false assumption that the marshals see no need to make arrests or Garland is lying about instructions to the marshals? Either way, it’s unacceptable. Garland is inept.


A final page said any arrests needed to be coordinated with federal prosecutors first, which Ms. Britt said also contradicts Mr. Garland’s assertion that the marshals had a free hand.

“Any contemplated [marshals] enforcement action should be coordinated in advance with the appropriate USAO,” the guidance said, using the abbreviation for U.S. attorney’s office.

Ms. Britt asked Mr. Garland at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday whether he was aware of the directives.

He said he was not aware, but stood by his earlier comments that the marshals were still able to act.

He said their first responsibility was to protect the lives and property of the justices “but that doesn’t mean they are in any way precluded from making other kinds of arrests.”

Senator Britt told Garland that it is clear the marshals were given other instructions. She asked him to look into it.

Garland was at the hearing to ask for $21M to pay for an additional 42 deputy marshals in the next fiscal year. Deputy marshals which apparently Garland doesn’t even know what they are tasked with doing. He refused to amend his remarks from earlier this month when Senator Britt asked if he wanted to do so. He just doubled down and said there was no need for him to do so.

“There’s nothing for me to amend because, as I said, I’ve never seen those slides before,” the attorney general replied.

“It’s clear the marshals were given a different directive and I would ask you to look into that, please,” Britt responded.


The arrogance coming from this administration never ceases to amaze me. Not only are many of the members of the Biden administration incompetent, but they are also arrogantly incompetent.

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