Then there is the claim, from The Washington Post, that this protest is the latest in a new trend. But such protests date back to the Revolutionary era, when crowds and mobs in Boston and other cities protested (and even attacked) British officials in their homes. In “Political Mobs and the American Revolution, 1765-1776,” the elder Arthur Schlesinger recounts the “looting of Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson’s Boston mansion in August 1765 during the Stamp Act troubles.”
Not content with gutting the structure from floor to roof, the “hellish crew” scattered Hutchinson’s historical papers and the manuscript for the second volume of his “History of Massachusetts Bay” abroad.
The patriotic elites, unsurprisingly, developed a theory by which these actions were justified. “Unconstitutional legislation, in Whig theory, created the need for constitutional self-defense,” explains jurist John Phillip Reid in “A Defensive Rage: The Uses of the Mob, the Justification in Law, and the Coming of the American Revolution “. ”
“Are we going to submit to parliamentary taxation, to avoid crowds?” Asked John Adams. “Parliamentary taxation, if it is established, will it not cause vices, crimes and follies infinitely more numerous, dangerous and fatal to the community?
Adams hated crowds. But even they, he thought, served a purpose under the right circumstances. Or, as he wrote in a 1774 letter to his wife, Abigail: “Those private crowds I hate and will hate. If popular unrest can be justified against attacks on the Constitution, it can only be when the fundamentals are overrun, nor then except when absolutely necessary, and with great caution.
He was making a judgment. U.S. too. Does a legal attack on the right to abortion justify the demonstration of the justices of the Supreme Court at their home?
It’s easy to see why Republicans say no; not only do they want this outcome, but they are also deeply invested in the legitimacy of a court they have worked so hard to shape. Allowing demonstrations of this kind is counterproductive.
But from the perspective of a citizen who believes that the right to have an abortion should be enshrined in the Constitution — and who has no other means of persuading, influencing or even talk to a Supreme Court justice – that makes perfect sense. Although the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is set in stone, the protest – in their streets, in front of their homes – allows these citizens to be heard.
As much as the Supreme Court and its defenders would like to pretend otherwise, the Court does not exist outside of politics. We know it because of its past and we know it because of its present. After capturing the court for their own purposes, conservative legal elites have not hesitated to pressure the court to rule in their favor.
That is to say, in assessing the recent protests, we must answer an important question: who has the right to go directly to the Supreme Court? The elites who shape the court or the people who must live under it?