RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With Republican support, the Virginia House of Delegates shelved Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to create a felony penalty for protests that aim to influence or intimidate judges.
State lawmakers are back in Richmond on Friday to take up the governor’s amendments to the biennial budget.
Gov. Youngkin’s budget amendment proposed to make it a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine, to demonstrate outside a court building or residence of a judge, or any other officer of the court, in an effort to interfere with “the administration of justice” or seeking to influence or intimidate.
Del. Robert Orrock (R-Caroline) made a motion to pass the amendment by for the day, essentially removing it from consideration during the one-day legislative session.
The proposal from Youngkin came after abortion rights protests were held outside the homes of U.S. Supreme Court justices in Northern Virginia.
The governor wrote a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in May asking for police to establish an expanded security perimeter around the homes of three justices who live in the county. That request that was denied.
“In addition to my clear safety concerns,” Youngkin wrote to the board, “I fundamentally believe such demonstrations and picketing should not be allowed at the Justices’ homes as they are meant to intimidate and influence the Justices, not to mention, scaring their families and small children.”
The full budget amendment reads as follows:
Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing or intimidating in the discharge of his or her duty any judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee, of any court of the Commonwealth or of the United States or any U.S. state or territory, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the Commonwealth or of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee, or any immediate family member of such judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee, or with such intent uses any sound-truck, bullhorn, or similar device, or resorts to any other demonstration of any kind in or near any such building or residence, whether or not such building or residence is occupied or believed to be occupied at the time that the picket, parade, or other demonstration takes place, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.”
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