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Virginia Governor Youngkin Reacts to Pressure re: Protests

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But Seeks to Deflect Legal Responsibility to Biden Administration

WASHINGTON - eTradeWire -- Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has reacted to growing pressure to do something to stop activists, who continue to illegally protest at the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices, by requesting that Attorney General Merrick Garland take action under a federal statute which prohibits picketing or parading in or near a building or residence occupied or used by a judge if it is done "with the intent . . . of influencing any judge . . ., in the discharge of his duty."

But that statute may not provide the basis for arrests or other law enforcement action by federal law enforcement officials because it requires a specific "intent" to influence a judge; something protestors are denying by claiming that they are simply expressing their outrage, and have no intent of trying to influence justices since their minds appear to be already made up.

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In asking the Biden administration to protect the justices, Youngkin is seeking to deflect legal responsibility from himself since a Virginia statute makes protesting near any residence a crime even if completely peaceful, and without the need to establish any specific intent, charges public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

The law professor, whose formal complaint triggered a criminal investigation of former president Donald Trump in Georgia, and helped obtain Special Prosecutors to investigate then-president Richard Nixon, send a formal demand for the enforcement of this Virginia statute to Youngkin on May 7th.

In it Banzhaf put the Governor and his staff on legal notice of Virginia's § 18.2-419.

He also reminded Youngkin of how strongly the legislators feel about the statute, and about its need for enforcement.:

After receiving the legal demand for enforcement of the statute, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares urged 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.

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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."

The law professor has pointed out that it 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.

That's because, 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.

jbanzhaf3ATgmail.com @profbanzhaf


Source: Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
Filed Under: Legal

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