In 1996 and 1997, Justice Clarence Thomas bowed out of speaking engagements in Maryland schools due to planned protests from local groups.
And while he withdrew from these events, he said, because he didn’t want children to be subjected to potentially virulent protests, his jurisprudence has proven otherwise, as he sided with quite aggressive abortion clinic and military funeral demonstrators in near-unanimous decisions in 2011 and 2014.
Unlike the women seeking health counseling or the families burying their loved ones, Justice Thomas and his colleagues can avoid demonstrations aimed in their direction simply by arriving at their place of work via the back entrance.
Even though they don’t enter through the front doors, the justices have curtailed public gatherings out front. The reasoning? “To protect the Supreme Court building and grounds, and persons and property thereon, and to maintain suitable order and decorum within the Supreme Court building and grounds,” according to regulations posted at SupremeCourt.gov.
Fix the Court believes that the justices, in the interest of being consistent with the First Amendment, should not prevent the public from congregating on the spacious plaza in front of the building – and they can allow such demonstrations without compromising their safety.