Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pressed a top Justice Department official during an Aug. 3 Senate hearing to punish protesters, under federal law, who demonstrated at Supreme Court justices’ homes in the past months.
It came after hundreds of activists had protested at justices’ publicized homes since a draft opinion of the ruling that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion nationwide since 1973, was leaked in May.
“Night after night after night, these protesters committed federal crimes on national television. Why has the Justice Department refused to enforce 18 U.S.C. § 1507?” Cruz questioned Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. during a Judiciary Committee hearing this Wednesday.
He was referencing Section 1507 of the federal code, which makes it a federal crime to picket or parade near a judge’s residence “with the intent of influencing” a pending decision. Penalties for a breach include a fine and up to a year in prison.
Polite responded to Cruz by pointing out that one person has been charged with a crime by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland after demonstrating outside the home of a Supreme Court justice.
“So, one person?” Cruz asked in reply.
“To date, there has been one prosecution,” Polite confirmed before the senator replied.
“What about the hundreds of others—all of whom have violated the law,” Cruz pushed further. “The law is very clear. Why does the Department of Justice pick and choose which laws to enforce, [and] which criminal laws to enforce? Why does it seem to exactly follow the pattern of the partisan preferences of the Biden White House?” he asked.
Polite responded by reiterating that “politics shouldn’t play and does not play any role” in prosecutorial decisions. “What I will also add is that our attorney general has increased the U.S. Marshal service resources to protect our Supreme Court justices,” he continued.
Cruz then asked why the department “is refusing” to enforce the law—a claim rejected by Polite, who, however, declined to comment on the “current status of potential investigations” when pressed again by Cruz.
“I think you need to follow the law,” Cruz said at the end.
Before the exchange, Cruz firstly presented during the Wednesday hearing a wave of vandalism and violence around the country against crisis pregnancy centers, in the wake of the leaked draft majority opinion to roll back the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
In the past two months and a half, leftist groups have targeted and walked by the homes of conservative Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. A would-be attacker had also been arrested near Kavanaugh’s house for attempted murder after finding the GOP-appointed justice’s address online.