The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for an increase in political violence after the Supreme Court hands down its official ruling on Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks, according to a leaked memo reported Wednesday.
First Axios and then Fox News published details from a May 13 memo revealing that federal law enforcement is investigating threats made on social media to “burn down or storm” the Supreme Court building. Pro-abortion-rights activists began making such threats earlier in the month when a draft majority opinion leaked to Politico indicated the court had voted to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturn the landmark Roe decision.
Pro-abortion protesters have called for a “summer of rage,” with the expectation that the court will roll back abortion rights. Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices have already endured potentially illegal protests outside their private homes, and the headquarters of a pro-life organization was attacked with a Molotov cocktail in Madison, Wisconsin.
The DHS memo reportedly says that threats made against Supreme Court justices, lawmakers, churches, and abortion clinics “are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.”
Violence could come from both sides of the abortion debate, according to the DHS.
“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 reportedly says. It also warns that extremist acts could come from pro-abortion radicals.
But heated rhetoric surrounding the debate should not be confused with calls to violence, the memo says.
“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 a statement, a DHS spokesperson said the government “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 to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe,” the spokesman said.
Last week, the Department of Justice said it is monitoring threats made against Supreme Court justices.
“Attorney General Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices. The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” said DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley.