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DHS warns of threats to burn down Supreme Court, kill justices as abortion decision looms

Supreme Court
A pro-choice activist holds up a sign during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022, in Washington, D.C. |

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning that some pro-abortion extremists have expressed a desire to burn down the U.S. Supreme Court building if the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide is overturned. 

A Department of Homeland Security memo published May 13, obtained by Axios, warns that violent threats directed at Supreme Court justices and others involved in the abortion debate, such as politicians, members of the clergy and healthcare providers "are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing in the Court's official ruling" in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health

The memo comes amid protests of an initial draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. the draft indicates that a majority of justices are poised to reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Politico published the leaked draft opinion on May 2, but the draft is not final.

The prospect of Roe's reversal, which would send the abortion issue back to states to decide, has already led to acts of vandalism and violence at churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. Protesters have also descended upon the homes of the six Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents, five of whom signed onto the draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs

Axios reports that the U.S. government is gearing up for a potential surge in political violence once the Supreme Court decision is released, and law enforcement agencies are investigating social media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murders justices and their clerks.

According to CBS News, the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium has referred over two dozen online posts to its partner agencies to investigate. Some of those posts spoke of "burning down or storming the U.S. Supreme Court and murdering Justices and their clerks, members of Congress, and lawful demonstrators."

Although the violence in recent weeks has been directed at churches and pro-life pregnancy centers, the DHS memo expresses concern that "some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists' embrace of pro-life narratives may be linked to the perception of wanting to 'save white children' and 'fight white genocide.'"  

At the same time, the document stresses that "mere advocacy of political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics does not constitute domestic violent extremism or illegal activity and is constitutionally protected." 

A DHS spokesperson told Axios that the agency is "committed to protecting Americans' freedom of speech and other civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest."

"DHS is also committed to working with our partners across every level of government and the private sector to share timely information and intelligence, prevent all forms of violence, and support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe," the DHS spokesperson said. 

Last week's DHS memo follows an earlier warning from the agency that predates the debate about the Dobbs case.

Shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, DHS included "abortion-related domestic violent extremists" on a list of groups that "pose an elevated threat to the homeland in 2021." The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is not the only government agency concerned about the possibility of increased violence following the Dobbs decision. 

The Virginia Fusion Center, a partnership between the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to "improve the Commonwealth of Virginia's preparedness against terrorist attacks," has compiled a document warning its Shield members to "be prepared for a potential increase in abortion-related events, rallies and protests with the potential for violence and criminal activity." 

"We have seen groups from both sides of the issue begin to organize, plan and execute a variety of gatherings and protests," the organization stated. "We expect these gatherings to increase in intensity as the date of the official decision approaches. Some may become violent."

The Virginia Fusion Center also predicted that an "increase in abortion-related protests and marches could attract the attention of other violent extremists or mass attackers with motives unrelated to abortion." This could include "groups or individuals interested in attacking large crowds and those with grievances against women, such as involuntary celibate (Incel) violent extremists." 

The Virginia Fusion Center also anticipated that activists on both sides of the abortion debate would find themselves subject to "merciless doxing, or the release of personal information to increase targeted attacks," as has already happened to Supreme Court justices.

Recalling that a Planned Parenthood facility in Los Angeles was subject to a cyberattack that led to the theft of patient information, the Virginia Fusion Center maintained that "similar attacks could occur due to heightened tensions."

A decision in the Dobbs case is expected by the end of June.

The Women's March has promised to embark on a "Summer of Rage" on behalf of Roe, insisting that "We won't rest until abortion rights are protected."

The group will conclude the summer with a "Women's Convention" in Houston, Texas. While congressional Democrats have sought to codify the right to abortion into law by passing the Women's Health Protection Act, their efforts have stalled in the evenly divided U.S. Senate. 

If Roe is overturned as expected, 21 states will either ban or restrict abortions more than they currently do, 16 states have codified abortion access in state law, 10 states will continue to enforce their current abortion laws and/or restrictions and voters in the remaining three states may have the opportunity to weigh in on their abortion laws at the ballot box in the near future. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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