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Doxing, Intimidation and Court-Packing: The Timeless Tools of Authoritarians

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May 20, 2022
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by Jorge Gomez • 7 min read

After the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, the far Left unleashed a vicious wave of attacks against America’s highest court. Tall barricades keep protesters back from the building. The justices are working from undisclosed locations.

Most alarming is the resurgent and growing call to pack the Court with liberal justices, a dangerous power-grab that would eviscerate the judiciary. But it seems the Left is willing to rig the Court for their political benefit.

It didn’t take long for radical activists to make the personal information of Supreme Court justices public online. Commonly referred to as “doxing,” this is the act of searching and publishing someone’s private and identifying information on the Internet with malicious intent.

Protesters took the cue—and the cash. The Washington Examiner reports:

“Far-left extremist groups have not only published the home addresses of the conservative Supreme Court justices who are reportedly considering overturning Roe v. Wade, but they are also paying protesters to march to their homes.”

These acts of intimidation are illegal. Federal law prohibits “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” when it is “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.”

Not only is it a violation of federal law, “court-doxing”, more aptly called judicial intimidation, is wrong. It runs afoul to the values of our country.

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In America, we’re free to disagree with judicial opinions. We can criticize the reasoning, logic and record of judges. Peaceably demonstrating outside the Supreme Court to express opposition to a decision, for example, is a right protected under the First Amendment.

However, efforts to intimidate judges to get them to change their vote on a case is an affront to judicial independence, a pillar of our constitutional republic. Going into a judge’s neighborhood, marching and chanting in front of his or her home is a step too far.

This dangerous act of intimidation is one all Americans should resoundingly reject. It’s a far cry from our nation’s founding principles. Judicial intimidation is a move taken straight form the authoritarian playbook. Along with court-packing, this Machiavellian tactic has been used repeatedly to consolidate power.

In 2004, dictator Hugo Chavez increased the size of the Venezuelan Supreme Court from 20 members to 32 and packed it with judges loyal to his party. He also used fear and intimidation of judges for political gain. In 2009, he made a national example of a judge who dared to act in opposition to his regime. Human Rights Watch reported:

“The most disturbing example of the lack of judicial independence has been the prosecution of the Judge María Lourdes Afiuni—at the behest of Chávez…Afiuni’s arrest and prolonged imprisonment have had a powerful impact on other lower court judges, who fear being criminally prosecuted if they issue rulings that could upset the Chávez government.”

A special United Nations report detailed the consequences:

“Judges who refused to give in to political pressure have been vilified and intimidated…This has resulted in a climate of fear. Nearly half of the former judges and prosecutors interviewed, along with many of their family members, have had to leave Venezuela fearing for their safety; many others declined to speak…out of fear of reprisals.”

In Turkey, President Erdogan tightened his grip on power by purging Turkey’s judicial system of anyone who would defy his rule. As recently as 2019, nearly 4,000 judges and prosecutors had been removed from their posts, including more than 500 reported to be in jail. He proceeded to fill the empty seats with judges allied to him. The message could not have been any clearer: There will be repercussion for judges who act against the ruling party.

The Guardian brought to light what happened recently to judges in Poland who criticized the ruling Law and Justice party:

“Judges involved in politically sensitive cases or who have expressed opposition to threats to judicial independence…are frequently threatened with disciplinary proceedings and even criminal charges, and in many cases are subjected to allegations of corruption and hate campaigns…Judges said they faced an impossible dilemma: stay silent and lose their independence, or speak out and be accused of ‘politicization’, face disciplinary charges and lose their credibility in the eyes of the public.”

Whether it’s the threat to pack the Court, or the doxing and intimidation of judges, it’s clear these tactics are being leveraged to achieve one thing: a Supreme Court Coup. The party in power continues to use them in its attempt to turn America’s highest court into a puppet that will rubber stamp its radical policies and agenda.

Proponents of court “reform” constantly groan that “democracy is under assault by this Supreme Court.” By that, they’re actually saying they’re unhappy with the current composition of the Court because it’s not full of judges who will rule their way.

However, the lessons of countless countries show that court-packing and judicial intimidation are the real assault to democracy, liberty and the rule of law.

We cannot allow a radical mob to coerce and intimidate judges. If so, our country will quickly head down the dark road to tyranny—where there is no judicial independence or system of checks and balances to stop ruling elites from weaponizing the courts to take away our freedoms.

Whether it’s here in America, or in any country, court-doxing and court-packing yield the same result: the erosion of constitutional liberties and rights of citizens, including religious freedom.

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