Angst among the neighbors of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is growing as weekly protests continue at his Chevy Chase home in the wake of last month’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The protests became frequent after a draft opinion was leaked in May signaling the likely overturning of Roe. Since the landmark abortion rights case was reversed on June 24, the protests have generally been occurring on Wednesdays and sometimes on weekends. Kavanaugh was among the justices who voted to overturn Roe.
On Wednesday night, more than 30 protesters marched in front of Kavanaugh’s home, moving constantly from one side of the street to the other. After marching for several minutes they continued on to Chief Justice John Roberts’ home in the neighborhood on the other side of Connecticut Avenue, less than a mile away.
The protesters carried signs with messages including “either legalize abortions or mandate vasectomies,” “fed fails women” and “we are not ovary acting.” A few of the protesters used bullhorns, and one banged on drums as they walked. At one point they read the words of the First Amendment in front of the justice’s home.
Adele Blow, who made the trip to Chevy Chase from Arlington, said she has been coming to the protests at Kavanaugh’s home since the court’s decision last month. Blow said she is at risk for having an ectopic pregnancy – a condition in which the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus.
“I could die if I don’t get immediate help if I have an ectopic pregnancy,” she said.
Blow said she is particularly worried about how the rolling back of abortion rights in the country will affect Black women.
“At the end of the day, women of color will die because of this ruling. And the fundamental thing that makes women equal is their own bodily autonomy and their reproductive rights. It’s the only way women can have a leg up in the workforce,” she said.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”40″ display=”basic_thumbnail”]Protesters in Montgomery County are subject to local regulations, such as a requirement that they not remain stationary in front of a person’s house and not block traffic. Recently, the marshal of the Supreme Court addressed a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich asking that he enforce the local laws, in response to one protest that featured at least 75 people, according to the marshal. Elrich responded by saying that the marshal should have discussed the issue with him first before taking it to the media and also disputed the marshal’s description about the protesters’ actions.
On Wednesday evening, a few residents met in the neighborhood with Sean Gagen, the commander of the Montgomery County police department’s Second District, and another officer to express their concerns about the protests. The neighbors say they are worried about the noise, the obscenities being shouted by some protesters and the disruption to the community.
One neighbor, who asked that Bethesda Beat not use her name for safety reasons, wrote in an email that she thinks the protesters’ actions are inappropriate in a private neighborhood where young children live.
“Most of those children are too young to understand what they’re doing and way too young for us to have these crucial conversations with. They are extremely frightened by their actions and no longer feel safe in their own homes,” she wrote in an email on Thursday.
The neighbor also took issue with the recent characterization by Montgomery County officials that the protests were peaceful.
“They are far from. It’s actually embarrassing that anyone would categorize them as such,” she wrote. “Ask anyone on our street that lives here or has been here when they’re happening and they will tell you the same. It’s horrendous and insane that this is allowed to happen at our private homes.”
The neighbor added that many of the residents share the same views as the protesters but feel they are being disruptive and disrespectful to the community.
Neighbor Florence Knauf, who had come outside during the protest, told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that the protests have been somewhat difficult for the community.
“Brett Kavanaugh and I don’t agree with each other very much, but I actually think that doing this outside of a person’s house is hard,” she said. “You have a Supreme Court [building] that is public and is totally a place where you can, like, deal with your First Amendment Rights. And going to someone’s house is pretty scary.”
Knauf, however, said she understands why so many people are upset about the overturning of Roe because it will “take a generation to fix.”
Knauf said the protesters she has seen have been following the county’s regulations.
“We walk down the street almost every day and we don’t see people sitting outside protesting or anything like that, so I think whatever Montgomery County’s rules are have been followed,” she said.
Gagen told Bethesda Beat that he and other officers from the department’s Special Events Response Team have been present during each of the protests. Helping maintain peace in the community and ensuring the protesters can exercise their rights requires diplomatic skills, he said.
“It’s a tricky situation,” he said.
Gagen said that since the protests started in May officers have only had to issue warnings to the protesters twice and both times the group complied with the law.
Blow said the recent dustup between Elrich and the court’s marshal could impact the protesters’ activities.
“[With] protesting in general you have a risk of getting arrested, but doing what we’re doing peacefully you shouldn’t get arrested,” she said. “But that’s absolutely going to be the case if they start trying to enforce these laws here, which is really unfortunate. We all just want to express our disapproval of what’s going on, and we should be able to do that.”
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org