AG Urges Arrest of Roe Home Protestors in Virginia

But Governor Youngkin Simply Wants to Keep Protests Nonviolent
WASHINGTON - May 11, 2022 - PRLog -- Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is urging commonwealth attorneys to enforce state law making protests at the home of Supreme Court justices and others a crime by arresting and prosecuting those who participate. In contrast, Governor Glenn Youngkin has indicated that he would not object to such protests - even though they are illegal - so long as they do not turn too violent.

Miyares announced that: "Section 18.2-419 of the Code of Virginia states that protesting in front of an individual's private residence is a class 3 misdemeanor. Under Virginia law, local commonwealth attorneys are responsible for prosecuting violations of this statute. Attorney General Miyares urges every commonwealth's attorney to put their personal politics aside and enforce the law,"

Meanwhile, Youngkin has said: "We have been coordinating with [the Fairfax County Police Department] [Virginia State Police], and federal authorities to ensure that there isn't violence. Virginia State Police were closely monitoring, fully coordinated with Fairfax County and near the protests."

It is shocking, as well as clearly illegal, for the Governor to refuse to enforce a criminal law on the books designed to keep the peace in Virginia, and to order police under his control to just "monitor the situation" as he said in an earlier statement, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has filed a legal demand for enforcement of the law with the Governor's office.

This failure is especially true in light of the strong statement of legislative intent which provides strong support for strict enforcement, says Banzhaf.

A forceful statement of policy makes clear how strongly legislators feel about the need to enforce the statute: "protection and preservation of the home is the keystone of democratic government"; "good order of the community require that members of the community enjoy in their homes a feeling of well-being, tranquility, and privacy"; "picketing before or about residences and dwelling places causes emotional disturbance and distress"; "its object [is] the harassing of such occupants"; and enforcing the provisions of the statute "are necessary in the public interest, to avoid the detrimental results herein set forth."

It also seems clear that the legislators wrote the criminal statute prohibiting demonstrations at private residences to permit police to act when any such criminal activity begins, rather than waiting until it becomes violent.

Once such a demonstration becomes violent, it may be difficult to bring it under control, with arrests or otherwise, without causing injury to demonstrators, police, and perhaps innocent bystanders, Banzhaf notes, so the Governor's hands-off approach is as unwise as it is illegal.   @profbanzhaf

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