Jul 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Buttigieg: Kavanaugh protesters were exercising First Amendment rights

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended abortion rights protesters who gathered outside of a restaurant where Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," saying they were exercising their right to free speech.

Driving the news: Kavanaugh was eating at a restaurant called Morton's last week when protesters gathered outside the venue and called the manager to have Kavanaugh, who joined the Supreme Court's majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, kicked out.

What they're saying: "When public officials go into public life we should expect two things. One, you should always be free from violence, harassment and intimidation. And two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protests, people exercising their First Amendment rights," Buttigieg said.

  • "That's what happened in this case. Remember the justice never even came into contact with these protesters, reportedly didn't see or hear them," he added.
  • "These protesters are upset because a right, an important right that the majority of Americans support, was taken away. Not only the right to choose, by the way, but this justice was part of the process to stripping away the right to privacy."
  • "People are upset. They’re going to exercise their First Amendment rights. As long as that’s peaceful, that’s protected," Buttigieg added, comparing their actions with the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. "I think common sense can tell the difference.”

Asked if he would be alright with protesters appearing where he and his husband were dining, Buttigieg replied, "Protesting peacefully outside in a public space? Sure."

  • "Look, I can’t even tell you the number of spaces, venues and scenarios where I’ve been protested. And the bottom line is this: Any public figure should always, always be free from violence, intimidation and harassment, but should never be free from criticism, or people exercising their First Amendment rights."

The big picture: Democratic lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have also responded to the incident.

  • "Poor guy. He left before his soufflé because he decided half the country should risk death if they have an ectopic pregnancy within the wrong state lines. It’s all very unfair to him." Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
  • ShutDownDC, a liberal advocacy group in Washington, D.C., is offering up to $250 to service industry workers in the District for every sighting of the justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade.
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