Civics: Federal Statute Bans Picketing Judges’ Residences “With The Intent of Influencing [the] Judge”

Eugene Volokh

There’s been talk of protests outside Supreme Court Justices’ homes; but it appears likely that such protests are illegal, under 18 U.S.C. § 1507 (subsection numbers added),

Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or
with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty,
pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or
in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or
with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
A similar provision focused just on picketing outside courts (equivalent to subsection 3 above) was upheld in Cox v. Louisiana (1965); and the logic of that decision would apply equally to residential picketing (subsection 4 above). [UPDATE: Note that U.S. v. Grace (1983), struck down a total ban on demonstrations near the Supreme Court; but the law there was “not limited to expressive activities that are intended to interfere with, obstruct, or impede the administration of justice,” as Justice Marshall’s separate opinion noted.] Here is Cox’s logic, which was set forth in a protest of an impending trial, but which I think would apply to protests of an impending appellate decision as well:

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