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Virginia's Governor Youngkin Served With Legal Demand to Arrest Supreme Court Protesters
Virginia Criminal Statute Mandates Arrest; Police Can't Simply "Monitor" and "Assist"
The governor and the chief of police were put on formal notice that Virginia's § 18.2-419 makes any picketing near a residence a crime even if it remains entirely peaceful, and that ignoring a crime being committed in the presence of law enforcement officials violates their legal duty to arrest the violators, and the Governor's sworn duty to see that the laws of Virginia are enforced and not flouted.
The statute mandates that: "Any person who shall engage in picketing before or about the residence or dwelling place of any individual, or who shall assemble with another person or persons in a manner which disrupts or threatens to disrupt any individual's right to tranquility in his home, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor."
This is important, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, because the corresponding federal statute, § 18 U.S.C. 1507, only makes picketing or parading in or near a building or residence occupied or used by a judge criminal if it is done "with the intent . . . of influencing any judge . . ., in the discharge of his duty."
Thus it is not clear that any federal officers [e.g.. U.S. Marshals, Secret Service members, Supreme Court police, etc.] who might be on scene would - or even legally could - arrest persons who picket or protest near a justice's residence in Virginia without direct evidence in their possession of the specific intent which the federal statute requires. It is even more doubtful that they would - or even legally could - arrest protestors for violating Virginia's criminal statute.
Professor Banzhaf, whose legal complaint led to a criminal investigation of former president Donald Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, and whose legal actions years earlier helped lead to the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate former president Richard Nixon, noted that there is legal precedent for using this statute against protestors.