Home>Governor>Should protesters go to judges’ homes? Murphy has a guarded answer

From left, U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, Gov. Phil Murphy and Mark Anderl at a bill signing for Daniel's law, named after Daniel Anderl, who was slain in an attempt on the judge's life. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe).

Should protesters go to judges’ homes? Murphy has a guarded answer

Governor acknowledges murder of Judge Esther Salas’ son in New Jersey

By Joey Fox, May 11 2022 4:45 pm

In light of ongoing peaceful pro-abortion protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, Gov. Phil Murphy said today that he generally believes nonviolent protests are a fundamental right but that they must be done carefully.

“People have a right to protest peacefully,” Murphy said. “That’s not an abstract answer for me, because they do it outside my house.”

Last week, Politico released a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, prompting activists to set up protests outside the private houses of the court’s conservative justices.

Republicans and some Democrats have decried the protesters, and they may have the law on their side, as Murphy acknowledged. A Washington Post analysis found that a 1950 law prohibits picketing “in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer,” though the Post noted that law may not stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

In New Jersey, the issue is a particularly sensitive one after the murder of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’ son in 2020. In July of that year, an antifeminist extremist who had a case assigned to Salas went to Salas’ home and opened fire, killing her 20-year-old son Daniel and severely wounding her husband.

Murphy drew attention to that tragedy at his press conference today on expanding abortion access, and emphasized that anyone protesting in New Jersey or elsewhere needs to do so nonviolently.

“Let’s get into rooms like this, stand up, and be counted,” Murphy said. “Let there be no doubt what side of history we’re on. But let’s everybody be careful and respectful.”

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