White House Declares Justices Must Be Allowed To Perform Their Duties ‘Without Concern For Their Personal Safety’

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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The White House pivoted Monday as it condemned protesters acting with “violence, threats or vandalism” over the Roe v. Wade draft opinion and backed the ability for Supreme Court justices “to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.”

Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a new statement Monday noting that while President Joe Biden “strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest,” the events “should never include violence, threats, or vandalism.”

“Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety,” Psaki wrote.

The press secretary’s latest statement marks a difference from the administration’s stance on pro-choice protests last week.

Psaki was pressed on Friday about progressive activists’ plans to protest outside some of the Supreme Court justices’ homes. The press secretary called it an example of “peaceful protest” and said that “peaceful protest is not extreme.”

When pushed on whether Biden would urge activists against going into residential neighborhoods to protest, Psaki said the administration “encourage[s]” peaceful protesting.

“I think our view here is that peaceful protest — there’s a long history in the United States and the country of that. And we certainly encourage people to keep it peaceful and not resort to any level of violence,” Psaki said.

“Look, I think the President’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document,” the press secretary continued when confronted with the fact that activists posted the justices’ home addresses on a map. “We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected. We want people to protest peacefully if they want to — to protest. That is certainly what the President’s view would be.”

Ultimately, Psaki said at the time she had no “official U.S. government position on where people protest.”

Over the weekend, crowds gathered outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices and outside churches. In once incident, a Wisconsin pro-life organization’s office was vandalized and set on fire.

Outside the office, graffiti warned: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”

Republicans slammed the Biden administration Monday for its latest statement, with many suggesting it came too late and others saying the condemnation did not go far enough. (RELATED: How Biden’s Abortion Stance Has Changed Over The Years)

“The White House is playing word games,” Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted. “Biden needs to clearly condemn the mob for *showing up at private homes* at night (with kids present) to intimidate the Justices. This intimidation is unlawful and unamerican.”

Republican Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler said after Psaki’s tweet that “the White House is waking up Monday morning and trying to clean up their mess.”

“This wasn’t the sentiment last week. Not even close,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha also pointed out.