Since Politico published a sweeping draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito overturning decades of precedent concerning abortion rights, many Americans have exercised their First Amendment rights by protesting this looming decision. For the past half decade, we have witnessed an escalating attack on the right to protest. Unsurprisingly, many have sought to demonize the protesters, either falsely portraying them as violent or more disturbingly asserting that peaceful political speech is itself illegal. Several members of Congress and the Washington Post Editorial Board have advanced the latter claim. In addition to the editorial board weighing in, the Post published an op-ed calling on Biden to prosecute the protesters and ran an article claiming legal experts agreed such protests were unlawful. In spite of the false premise and selective interviews of this article, legal experts are by no means unanimous that it is constitutional to jail protesters for protesting judges. Even more troubling, the governors of Virginia and Maryland pulled a political stunt where they called for the Department of Justice to prosecute people for the mere act of First Amendment activity. Defending Rights & Dissent Policy Director Chip Gibbons had the following comment:
The First Amendment protects the right to protest. It protects political expression. Full Stop. Claims that protesting Supreme Court justices and their opinions is somehow a de facto illegal form of judicial interference due to an unconstitutional McCarthy-era law are at odds with decades of First Amendment jurisprudence. Although it is clear many proponents of using the Internal Security Act of 1950 against Americans exercising their constitutional rights are unfazed by disregard for decades of court precedent defending fundamental rights.