Law firm threatens to sue activists who disrupt church services
A religious freedom law firm says it will represent any church or person of faith that seeks legal recourse against a group that has threatened or disrupted services in the wake of a leaked draft majority opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
In a blog post Saturday, the conservative Catholic legal group Thomas More Society stated that its attorneys have contacted the group Ruth Sent Us to “put them on notice that trespassing, violence, and vandalism will not be tolerated.”
Ruth Sent Us describes itself as a group working to “force accountability using a diversity of tactics” from the “6-3 extremist Supreme Court.” Last week, the group urged abortion supporters to “stand at or in a local Catholic Church” this past weekend as a show of support for Roe, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The group’s anger at the Catholic Church stems from the church’s outspoken opposition to abortion and the fact that four of the five justices who signed on to the draft opinion that would overturn Roe are Catholic.
The law firm notes that “videos and accompanying rhetoric on social media have documented these fanatics attacking churches and committing damages in their chosen uniform of white caps and red capes.”
“[A]ny breach of the law or violation of the constitutional rights of religious believers will not be tolerated, and that what may pass as civil disobedience on the public right of way is totally out of bounds in a house of worship,” the blog post reads.
Thomas More Society sent a warning letter to Ruth Sent Us on Friday.
“Since the police brutality protests in May 2020, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been tracking hate crimes committed against Catholic properties,” the letter states. “To date, the Bishops have identified 129 incidents of vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes directed at Catholics. The most recent of these occurred on the evening of May 3, 2022, and appears to have been a direct response to the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.”
The Ruth Sent US website states that the 6-3 “extremist” majority on the Supreme Court “routinely issues rulings that hurt women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights.”
“We must rise up to force accountability using a diversity of tactics,” the website reads.
A video accompanying a May 3 tweet by the pro-abortion group calls on abortion advocates to stage protests inside churches. It shows protesters dressed in “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes yelling “abortion on demand and without apology” at churchgoers as they storm through the pews of a Catholic church.
“For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has been an institution for the enslavement of women,” one of the protesters can be heard saying in a second video posted by Ruth Sent Us Tuesday.
The Thomas More Society attorneys say that the group’s supporters could face “significant legal liability under both California and federal law” for their actions and “obstruction of or interference with a person’s First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship is illegal.”
The firm recounts the disruption of a Feb. 28 Catholic Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco and its disruption.
“The intruders recorded the abusive event and then promoted it on various social media platforms, including Twitter,” the blog post states.
Ruth Sent Us has also threatened to burn the Eucharist to show their “disgust for the abuse Catholic Churches have condoned for centuries.”
Meanwhile, the White House on Sunday defended people’s “fundamental right to protest” while warning against “intimidation” of others during protests planned at Catholic churches and near the homes of Supreme Court justices.
Fox News Digital quoted a White House official as saying that President Joe Biden opposes any “attempts to intimidate” by protesters.
“As [White House Press Secretary] Jen [Psaki] reiterated last week, the President has made clear throughout his time in public life that Americans have the fundamental right to protest under the Constitution, whatever their point of view. But protests must be peaceful and free of violence, vandalism, or attempts to intimidate, all of which he condemns in any case,” the official was quoted as saying in a statement.
“The president believes in peaceful protest,” Psaki said at the time. “He believes that’s part of our democracy and part of the history of the United States and this country. But he also respects and understands the independence of the third branch of government, and — I mean, obviously, the Justice Department — but also the role of the Supreme Court and what they play.”
Ruth Sent Us has also encouraged people to protest outside the homes of Supreme Court justices in Virginia and Maryland after doxing them.
The New York Post previously noted that the planned protests could be illegal.
According to 18 U.S.C. 1507, which relates to Obstruction of Justice, anyone who has the intent of “interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the tent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer” or pickets or parades in or near a court building or residents “occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness or court officer” will face a fine or imprisonment of one year.
Amid threats and protests, Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the leaked draft opinion, and his family have been moved to an undisclosed location for safety.
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