Dick Durbin breaks with WH, Dem leadership, calls protests at homes of SC justices ‘reprehensible’

In a rare moment of levelheadedness, Senator Dick Durbin has condemned protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices as “reprehensible.”

“I think it’s reprehensible. Stay away from homes and families of elected officials and members of the court,” Durbin said in an interview with CNN. The senator from Illinois is the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, as well as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“You can express yourself,” he continued, “exercise your First Amendment rights, but to go after them at their homes, to do anything of a threatening nature, certainly anything violent, is absolutely reprehensible.”

Durbin’s comments were reported by The Hill, and they come as a decided contrast to statements made by the Senate’s No. 1 Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who saw nothing wrong with activists picketing in front of the homes of the Court’s conservative justices.

“If protests are peaceful, yes,” Schumer said when asked about the matter during a press conference on Tuesday. “My house—there’s protests three, four times a week outside my house. The American way to peacefully protest is okay.”

In his CNN interview, however, Durbin seemed to disagree with his fellow Democrat, insisting that Schumer’s view on protesting outside the justices’ homes is not consonant with political civility and decorum.

“I think when it comes to the home of an elected official, that’s over the line,” he said. “It’s happened to me. I think it’s happened to most of us in elected position. If we want to bring women and men into this position accepting responsibility and sometimes controversy, we have to have reasonable lines drawn to respect their families.”

Durbin made the same arguments during a meeting last week of the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the meeting, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah condemned the intimidation tactics of the left-wing protesters, and denounced them as having “no place in our republic.”

“You go to the home of a public official to protest, that is an implicit threat,” Lee explained, according to Spectrum News NY1. “You show up where someone sleeps and raises children, that’s an implicit threat of physical violence. We deserve better than this.”

When asked by Lee if he thought demonstrators should be allowed to gather outside someone’s home, Durbin admitted that he did not.

“I don’t care for people who do it to my home, and they have,” he said. “I’m sure you don’t, either. There is no place for that, as far as I’m concerned. And I think it is demeaning and adolescent and not convincing at all when you’re trying to plead your case by doing something that outrageous.”

Durbin’s break with his fellow Democrats on the matter of protesting outside private homes has a more than academic interest these days, as loud and threatening demonstrations have erupted outside the homes of the Court’s conservative justices in recent days, with more targeting all six conservative justices Tuesday. The White House, for its part, has been slow to rebuke the implicit threat contained in the demonstrations, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki offering only a lukewarm condemnation.

“POTUS strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest,” she tweeted on Monday. “But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.”


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Todd Jaquith


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