More than a week after authorities apprehended a man near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home claiming he wanted to kill the justice, Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has introduced a budget amendment that would make it a felony to protest outside of a judge or justice’s home with the intent of influencing or intimidating that justice.
Amendment 35 on felonious picketing and demonstrations “creates a Class 6 felony for picketing or demonstrating in or near a court or residence with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing or intimidating in the discharge of his or her duty any judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee, or any immediate family member of such individuals.”
The move comes after the governor faced strong calls to discipline protestors who demonstrated outside the homes of Supreme Court justices who live in Virginia, such as Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
The governor also introduced a companion amendment that would provide funding for the “potential increase in prison bed space associated with creating a new felony.”
“I am asking that the General Assembly help keep our state and federal judges safe,” Youngkin said in a statement announcing the budget amendments.
“I’m grateful for the hard work of leaders in the House and Senate for presenting a budget to me that delivers key priorities for the Commonwealth, these amendments build on that and further our goal to make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family,” he added.
Governor Youngkin’s Budget Amendments make for a fascinating read…
One creates a Class 6 felony for protesting or picketing in front of a courthouse or residence of a judge/court employee or their family.
It’s as if – in Youngkin-land – the 1st Amendment doesn’t exist…
— Alfonso Lopez (@Lopez4VA) June 15, 2022
Critics pointed out that the proposed amendment would also make it a felony to protest near a court with the intent to influence or intimidate the justices. Youngkin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this point.
“It’s as if – in Youngkin-land – the 1st Amendment doesn’t exist…” tweeted Democratic Virginia state Rep. Alfonso Lopez.