US Marshals were told not to arrest protesters after Roe overturned
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US Marshals were told not to arrest protesters after Roe overturned

US Marshals assigned to protect Supreme Court justices’ homes following the reversal of Roe v. Wade last year were directed “not” to arrest protesters “unless absolutely necessary,” according to newly revealed documents.

Mon. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) unveiled a series of training slides used to prepare Marshals for their assignments as she grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The slides instructed the Marshals to “avoid​, unless absolutely necessary,​ any criminal enforcement​”​ ​involving protesters and that “making arrests and initiating prosecutions was not the goal” of their being stationed outside the residences of the court’s six conservative jurists .

Britt noted that the word “not” in the latter slide was italicized and underlined for emphasis.

Another slide directed Marshals not to “engage [in] protest-related enforcement” and to allow the protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights except to protect the justices and their families.

Britt said the slides were obtained from a Justice Department whistleblower who objected to Garland’s March 1 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Police stand guard outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh last September as people protested the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v.  Wade.
Police stand guard outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh last September as people protested SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifying at a at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on March 28, 2023.
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifying at a at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on March 28, 2023.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

At that hearing, Garland insisted that Marshals were empowered to decide in the field whether to make arrests.

However, another slide cited by Britt directed Marshals to clear any “enforcement action” with the local US Attorney’s office “in advance” and warned: “It is counter-productive to make [probable cause] arrests on cases that the USAO will not charge and prosecute.”

“Were you, at any point before your testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee, aware of these training materials or the fact that the Marshals had been heavily discouraged from making arrests … ?” Britt asked Garland.

​”This is the first time I’ve seen the slide deck,” the AG respondent, noting he was the first attorney general to ever order Marshals to protect the justices at their homes around the clock.​


Mon.  Katie Britt unveiled training slides instructing US Marshals to “avoid​, unless absolutely necessary,​ any criminal enforcement​”​ involving the protesters.
Mon. Katie Britt unveiled training slides instructing US Marshals to “avoid​, unless absolutely necessary,​ any criminal enforcement​”​ involving the protesters.
Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Protesters marching outside of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's home in Falls Church, Virginia on June 30, 2022.
Protesters marching outside of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s home in Falls Church, Virginia on June 30, 2022.
Photo by MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Garland went on to say that protecting the justices was the Marshals’ “principal responsibility” but that wouldn’t stop them from “bringing other kinds of arrests.”

“It is clear when you look at these slides, the Marshals were not given those directives,” Britt told Garland. “I would like for you to take a look at that.”

Federal law makes it illegal to picket or parade near a judge’s residence with the intent to interfere, obstruct or impede the administration of justice.


Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1.
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1.
Getty Images

Conservatives and Republicans have repeatedly demanded Garland explain why no protesters were arrested or charged under the statute this past summer.

The high court by a 6-3 ruling overturned the landmark Roe decision legalizing abortion nationwide on June 24, 2022, sparking protests and rallies that soon spread from the Supreme Court building to the nation’s streets and eventually to the conservative justices’ homes outside Washington.

On more than one occasion, protesters stood outside Justice Clarence Thomas’ residence shouting “no privacy for us, no peace for you.”


Law enforcement officers guarding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's house in Chevy Chase, Maryland as activists hold a demonstration on June 29, 2022.
Law enforcement officers guarding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Chevy Chase, Maryland as activists hold a demonstration on June 29, 2022.
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

They also gathered around the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito — who authored the opinion overturning Roe, John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch.

A California man, Nicholas Roske, was arrested outside of Kavanaugh’s home in early June by US Marshals after he hatched a plot to kill the justice following the leak of Alito’s draft opinion the previous month.

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