Support For Citizen's Arrests Over Roe at Homes of Justices

Planned Protests Over Roe at Judges' Residences Violate Federal and State Criminal Laws
WASHINGTON - May 7, 2022 - PRLog -- The suggestion by a law professor that anti-abortion activists might seek to make citizen's arrests, if Roe supporters protest as planned at the homes of anti-Roe Supreme Court justices, has triggered support on the Internet.

Many of the comments indicate strong support for such citizen's arrests: e.g.,
"Let's get a right wing militia to defend them";
"Vigilantes for Justices! Assemble!";
"violence, extreme violence is just what they need ... broken bones at a minimum ...,";
"A 'whiff of grapeshot' would do the trick"

A detailed legal analysis by public interest law professor John Banzhaf, posted on the Internet, suggested that protesting at the home of any judge is a crime under both federal and Virginia law, and that Virginia authorizes any person who witnesses such a crime to make a citizen's arrest, especially if law enforcement - as has too often occurred - fails to make arrests where warranted.

In Virginia, based upon legal precedent which goes back hundreds of years, any person who witnesses a "breech of the peace" is authorized to make a citizen's arrest of the perpetrator.

The use of § 18.2-419 against those who protest at a residence is far from theoretical.  Banzhaf notes that the wife of Senator Josh Hawley filed a complaint against the organizer of a protest outside her Virginia home, and that a local magistrate did find probable cause to issue a legal summons based upon that complaint.  However, the law professor notes that the law is not crystal clear.

So activists who oppose Roe who might seek to make the citizen's arrests, and the activists who are protesting and presumably would forcefully oppose any such arrests, could well clash violently, especially if duly authorized law enforcement officers do not make arrests or otherwise act to prevent violations of federal and state laws by the pro-Roe groups.

This could, of course, happen if the police are overwhelmed, or, as has sometimes happened, law enforcement fails to arrest protestors engaging in illegal actions even when fully legally warranted.   @profbanzhaf

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