The U.S. government is bracing for a potential surge in political violence once the Supreme Court hands down the ruling that’s expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by Axios.
The big picture: Law enforcement agencies are investigating social-media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murder justices and their clerks, as well as attacks targeting places of worship and abortion clinics.
Details: The unclassified May 13 memo by DHS’ intelligence arm says threats that followed the leak of a draft opinion — targeting Supreme Court Justices, lawmakers and other public officials, as well as clergy and health care providers — “are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.”
Context: Abortion-related violence historically has been driven by anti-abortion extremists.
- “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,'” the memo also says.
- But the memo warns that this time, extremist acts could come from abortion-rights proponents as well.
But, but, but: “The 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.”
In response to a request for comment from Axios, a DHS spokesperson said the department “is committed to protecting Americans’ freedom of speech and other civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest.