Buttigieg Defends Protesters Disrupting Supreme Court Justice’s Dinner

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Top Biden administration official Pete Buttigieg on July 10 defended protesters harassing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at a restaurant in Washington.

“Look, when public officials go into public life, we should expect two things. One, that you should always be free from violence, harassment, and intimidation. And two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protest, people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Buttigieg, a former presidential candidate, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And that’s what happened in this case.”

Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, was dining at Morton’s Steakhouse in Washington on July 6 when protesters, tipped off that he was there, gathered outside.

Some apparently tried to enter the area where the justice was, but fled before police officers arrived.

No arrests were made.

Morton’s denounced what happened, saying Kavanaugh and other patrons “were unduly harassed by unruly protestors while eating dinner” and that the protesters “trample[d] the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner.”

The Supreme Court and Kavanaugh have not commented on what happened.

Chasten Buttigieg, Buttigieg’s husband, was among those weighing in after the events transpired.

“Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.

Buttigieg defended the post, and the protesters, saying they are upset because Kavanaugh and other justices struck down Roe v. Wade.

“Any public figure should always, always be free from violence, intimidation and harassment but should never be free from criticism or people exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said.

Asked if he’d feel comfortable with protesters doing to him what they did to Kavanaugh, he added: “Protesting peacefully outside in a public space—sure. Look, I can’t even tell you the number of spaces, venues, and scenarios where I’ve been protested.”

Paid for Sightings

ShutDownDC, which called people to gather at Morton’s, said afterward that any workers in Washington who spot one of the justices on the Supreme Court who were appointed by Republicans should contact them with details, with money at stake.

“We’ll venmo you $50 for a confirmed sighting and $200 if they’re still there 30 mins after your message,” the group said. Venmo is a payment application.

Federal law prohibits attempting to intimidate judges by protesting near any building or residence occupied or used by said judge, but the Biden administration has so far refused to enforce the law.

The White House, meanwhile, has also defended the protesters.

“We condemn intimidation, we condemn any violence, and we have been very clear, it is a clear definition. Peaceful protest, people should be allowed to be able to do that. If it’s outside of a restaurant, if it’s peaceful, sure,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday.

Others, though, have questioned the tactics employed.

“Sending mobs of protestors to justices’ homes or restaurants where they are eating *is* intimidation. Period,” Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, said on Twitter.

“Justice Kavanaugh was the recent target of an assassination attempt. Sanctioning the use of mob intimidation tactics against our Justices is wildly irresponsible,” Stephen Miller, a former Trump administration official, said in response to Chasten Buttigieg.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.