U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) and 10 other Senate Republicans introduced a bill Monday to raise the maximum prison sentence for people who illegally intimidate federal justices.

In the summer of 2022, before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the issue of abortion back to the states, protesters posted a map with the addresses of the conservative-leaning justices online and gathered outside the private residences. 

Though federal law prohibits protesting at a private residence of a judge with the intent of influencing their decision, under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) did not prosecute any of the demonstrators. 

Unlawfully influencing a federal judge currently carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. This bill, dubbed the Protect Our Supreme Court Justice Act, would increase this maximum penalty to five years.

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hegerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) also helped introduce the bill.

In a statement to the media, Britt condemned protesters who use their otherwise right to free speech and peaceably assemble to try to influence judicial decisions.

“The rule of law cannot be replaced with mob rule in the United States,” she said. “The integrity and effectiveness of our judicial system hinges on the ability of judges to impartially interpret the law and rule on the legal merits of cases without fearing retribution to themselves or their families. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act to ensure we have a strong deterrent that can keep our Justices, judges, and their families safe while safeguarding the rule of law.”

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