The Montgomery County Police says it will begin enforcing a Maryland law against disturbing the peace after more than two months of regular protests outside the homes of US Supreme Court justices.
“Please note: MCPD supports the first amendment right to protest, however anyone violating the disorderly conduct statute, may be subject to arrest. Applicable laws regarding protests in Montgomery County have been added to the MCPD website,” police tweeted Wednesday evening.
The local police agency told CNN it will not necessarily clear protesters outside of justices’ homes for simply gathering, but will enforce statutes against disturbing the peace. For example, protesting quietly or silently is fine, but police will not allow bullhorns, drums or any loud behavior.
For weeks, dozens of protesters have gathered outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home and the residences of other conservative justices, such as Amy Coney Barrett in Virginia, to demonstrate against the court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Montgomery County Police said the protests elicited a flood of complaints from neighbors and the department tried to find a balance between First Amendment rights and the peace of the community.
Sources told CNN that justices on both sides of the controversial abortion ruling, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, have been concerned about the protests at justices’ homes, especially those with younger children.
The decision by Montgomery County Police comes nearly two weeks after Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley sent letters to elected officials in Maryland and Virginia urging them to enforce state laws. Curley addressed the Maryland letters to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a Democrat.
“You recently stated that you were ‘deeply concerned’ that ‘hundreds of demonstrators have recently chosen to picket Supreme Court Justices at their homes in … Maryland,’” Curley’s letter to Hogan stated. “Since then, protest activity at the Justices’ homes, as well as threatening activity, has only increased.”
The letters, dated July 1, referred to protests that have taken place “for weeks on end” and cited an arrest near Kavanaugh’s home in June of a man who was later charged by the Justice Department with attempting or threatening to kidnap or murder a US judge. Several Supreme Court justices live in Maryland.
Protests also have occurred at the homes of Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Barrett, who all reside in Fairfax County, Virginia. CNN has reached out to Fairfax County Police.