Republican senator’s push to arrest abortion protesters meets GOP resistance
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton wants the abortion-rights protesters outside the homes of Supreme Court justices to be arrested and prosecuted by the Justice Department.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wants the abortion-rights protesters demonstrating in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices to be swiftly arrested and prosecuted by the Justice Department.
Some of his Republican colleagues, however, say that would go too far and that it could violate First Amendment protections.
“I think if they’re being peaceful and are staying off their property and are not disrupting neighborhoods or causing or inciting fear, it’s probably a legitimate expression of free speech,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., a former member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday.
“First Amendment rights are so, so special. … We should all be erring in favor of the First Amendment, in favor of freedom of speech, in favor of freedom of religion, in favor of the freedom of assembly,” she said. “Because if we start fearing our rights to speak and express our religious convictions, and if we fear assembly, the consequences of parsing those rights are extremely dangerous.”
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said he, too, believes peaceful protests — even outside the homes of justices — is protected speech.
“I’m a First Amendment guy, and I think that cuts both ways,” Braun said in an interview. “If they’re there and they’re doing it peacefully, you know, I’m for that ability on either side of the political spectrum.”
Protesters have been chanting and holding up signs in front of the homes of three conservatives: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito, who wrote the leaked majority draft opinion that would overturn the constitutional right to abortion enshrined nearly a half-century ago in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.