Abortion rights hang in the balance as the Supreme Court considers the future of Roe v. Wade. Federal law enforcement has expressed concern about potential violence regardless of the court’s decision.
Axios reported Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been monitoring the potential for violence by ideological extremists on both sides of the abortion debate if Roe v. Wade is overturned. According to a leaked DHS memo, the agency has been monitoring social media posts that threaten attacks aimed at the highest court, Supreme Court justices, lawmakers and protestors in particular.
The memo, produced by the DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis, was written on May 13 and it followed the leaking of a draft Supreme Court opinion that suggested the court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. The leak sparked a political firestorm and days of protests that included demonstrations in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices in Virginia and Maryland.
While not specifically referring to the protestors, the potential for violence aimed at the Supreme Court or its nine justices was explicitly referenced in the memo.
“Some of these threats discussed burning down or storming the US Supreme Court and murdering Justices and their clerks, members of Congress, and lawful demonstrators,” the memo read.
After protestors descended on the homes of justices, the White House urged protestors to remain peaceful and warned that violence would be unacceptable. Republicans meanwhile slammed the Biden administration for not speaking out more forcefully against the demonstrations.
The Senate recently approved a new bill that would increase police protection for families of Supreme Court justices in the wake of the protests. The bill has since been forwarded to the House for consideration.
There was an emphasis on the risk posed by extremists on both sides of the abortion debate resorting to violence in the DHS memo. For example, DHS cautioned that there remained potential for “racially-motivated violent extremists” to latch on to anti-abortion protests based on their embrace of a racist conspiracy theory known as the “white replacement theory.”
“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,'” read part of the DHS memo.
The theory posits that a shadowy set of American elites, often referenced as Jews, are plotting to replace white Americans with immigrants from non-white countries.
It has circulated in the recesses of extremist white nationalist circles, but elements of it have been embraced by conservative pundits as well as members of the Republican Party.
Most recently, a white gunman in Buffalo justified his racially motivated rampage on May 14, as a way of thwarting “The Great Replacement,” a theory promoted by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.