‘Shut Down DC’ Protest Group Plans To Blockade Supreme Court on Day of Possible Abortion Ruling

The action is planned amid rising fears about the safety of Supreme Court justices following an arrest outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home.

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Fencing is up around the U.S. Supreme Court on June 6, 2022. AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The activist group “Shut Down DC” plans to “blockade the streets around the Supreme Court” on Monday, according to its website, as part of a protest that aims to “shut down” the Supreme Court as it prepares to hand down a ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

The protest is planned amid rising fears about the safety of Supreme Court justices following the arrest, in the middle of the night Wednesday outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, of an armed man who reportedly said he intended to kill the justice.   

The incident led to criticism of Senator Schumer for past comments appearing to threaten Supreme Court justices. It also raised pressure on the House to pass a measure, already approved by the Senate, to expand security protections for high court justices and their families.

According to the website of Shut Down DC, members will meet at Stanton Park in Washington, and then “break into three groups and march to the Supreme Court.” Members said in an organizing call on May 24 that they “planned to seal off three vehicle entrances to the Court so justices wouldn’t be able to get in,” according to a report in the Epoch Times. The Sun was unable to confirm the report.

“Guess what, we’re gonna #ShutDownSCOTUS on Monday,”  the group said Thursday on its Twitter account in a message that also featured an image of the Supreme Court’s calendar for June. The group’s website says “SHUT DOWN SCOTUS,” in all capital letters.

Plans to conduct a sit-in were also discussed by the group as a way to “continue to escalate the crisis in democracy,” according to the report.

A screenshot from the group’s Zoom meeting was also obtained by the Epoch Times. It shows a slide outlining the group’s plan in greater detail.

The protesters hope to force public officials to “allow the blockade to continue,” “[use] police force to forcibly remove us,” or “open up to implementing the transformation changes that our movements and communities have been demanding.”

Shut Down DC did not immediately respond to inquiries about whether these comments were authentic.

The group says the Senate filibuster has left the government “gridlocked and unable to pass legislation to protect our rights or enact the programs our communities need.” 

“Following decades of organizing by the far right,” it says, “… a group of five justices can roll back critical rights and protections that should be settled law.”

Shut Down DC views the current “time of crisis” as “an opportunity to break through the inertia.” To do so, the group encourages “disruptive direct action, mass mobilization, coordinated non-compliance, mutual aid and other forms of civil resistance.”

According to a memo circulated by Capitol Police, which CNN described, Shut Down DC “has not committed violence in the past, but instead uses nonviolent civil disobedience, which has resulted in arrests at protests.”

The group’s planned blockade will occur amid rising debate surrounding the public’s ability to protest Supreme Court justices and concerns about their safety from threats of violence.

Immediately following last month’s leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe — the case is Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — angry protesters chanted and demonstrated outside the homes of Justices Alito and Kavanaugh.

On Thursday, protesters dressed to look like characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, gathered for around 10 minutes outside the home of Justice Amy Barrett, according to Newsweek.

The blockade by Shut Down DC is set to occur less than a week after Wednesday’s arrest outside Justice Kavanaugh’s home.  The Sun reported that the suspect was found “in possession of a Glock 17 pistol, two magazines, a knife, ammunition, pepper spray, and zip ties” outside the justice’s residence, according to authorities.

It also comes as Mr. Schumer, the leader of the Democratic majority, faces renewed scrutiny surrounding comments made about President Trump’s high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, in March 2020.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh,” Mr. Schumer shouted to a group of abortion rights advocates. “You have unleashed the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Chief Justice Roberts described Mr. Schumer’s words as “threatening” and “dangerous.”  

Yesterday, Senator Hawley blamed Mr. Schumer for inciting the attack against Justice Kavanaugh, saying in a tweet, “I wonder if @chuckschumer is still proud of personally threatening Supreme Court Justices now that people with guns are showing up at their houses to kill them.”

Defenders of Mr. Schumer’s comments, such as a New York Magazine columnist, Jonathan Chait, point out that the majority leader followed the comments by urging a “political” rather than “violent” response.

Mr. Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Following the arrest outside Justice Kavanaugh’s home, Senator McConnell, the leader of the Republican minority, urged the House to pass a bill expanding security protections to the immediate family members of Supreme Court justices.  

The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent following the Roe leak in May, but it has not been put to a vote in the House.  According to comments by Senator Coons to CNN, the bill has stalled amid debate over whether the protections should also cover clerks and other staff.

According to sources who spoke to CNN, “Capitol Police are ramping up security” in preparation for a tumultuous June, “adding overtime shifts and holding near-daily calls with law enforcement agencies around the metro area.”  

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police are “launching Civil Disturbance Unit officers” to deal with what is expected to be a month of heavy protest around Washington.

Upon request for comment by the Sun, The Supreme Court’s Office of Public Information said, “As a matter of Court policy we don’t discuss security arrangements.”

The New York Sun

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