By James C. Sherlock
The chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, a career progressive politician discharged with a law degree, said Fairfax County’s support of federal authorities in enforcing federal law was unconstitutional.
Not unaffordable; not false; but unconstitutional.
He offered this opinion to justify his decision that the Fairfax County police will not help the federal government protect three Supreme Court justices who live in the county.
Absurdity. That’s not the reason.
The judges who live in the county are all conservatives – Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas – under attack from the left and threatened with personal injury.
That’s the reason.
If Judge Kagan had a home in Fairfax County and was threatened, the FCPD would create a new division to protect her. The perimeter would be half a mile in all directions.
Tell me I’m wrong.
From an AP story:
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said Youngkin’s request for perimeter security was unnecessary and inappropriate. He said establishing a perimeter would amount to creating an unconstitutional neighborhood “checkpoint” that would infringe on First Amendment protest rights. He also noted that the protests that took place outside Alito’s home in the Fort Hunt neighborhood were peaceful.
He did not “notice” that they would continue to be peaceful.
The claim of unconstitutionality appears to have been fabricated, given federal law that not only permits, but requires, judges to be protected from protests that attempt to influence their official decisions.
The threats. The Board of Supervisors prioritized safe streets and neighborhoods. Note that the Fairfax County Police Department has its own counterterrorism unit. Fairfax has defined terrorism as “the use of force or violence against persons or property for the purpose of intimidation, coercion or ransom”.
McKay or history did not mention the judges being publicly threatened for their safety. “Useless”? Mackay should check with the US Marshals Service.
Antifa, infamous for its violent protests, is directly involved. They notoriously “used force or violence for the purpose of intimidation”.
The threats are serious enough that the US Marshals Service has been tasked with leading federal efforts to protect judges. They cannot do this properly in Fairfax County without the full cooperation of the Fairfax County Police. That department may choose to cooperate with federal authorities to enforce federal law on the matter, but Mckay says it will not.
Claim of unconstitutionality. Mr. McKay’s claim of unconstitutionality is challenged by the fact that a federal law prohibiting picketing of judges’ homes has been in place undisturbed by court rulings since 1950.
McKay’s statement implied that 18 US Code § 1507 – Picketing or parading is unconstitutional.
Anyone who, with intent to interfere, obstruct or interfere with the administration of justice, or with intent to influence a judge, juror, witness or officer of justice in the performance of his or her duties, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness or officer of the court, or with such intent uses a public address truck or similar device or resort to any other manifestation in or near such building or residence, shall be liable to a fine under this title or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. (emphasis added).
Nothing in this section shall interfere with or prevent the exercise by a United States court of its power to punish for contempt.
Given that 18 US Code § 1507 has been in place since 1950, it seems the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors needs a better constitutional lawyer before Mackay speaks on the subject.
What to do?
Unless the Fairfax County Police Department has withdrawn from the Regional Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), it and other jurisdictions in the National Capital Region may use this location to cooperate with the government. federal government to protect judges.
If the Supervisory Board allows it.
Updated May 13 at noon.