FBI Kavanaugh

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stands before a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Two days after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh fled abortion rights protesters at a Morton’s steakhouse in D.C., Chasten Buttigieg – husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – tweeted his assessment of the incident.

“Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions,” Chasten Buttigieg wrote, alluding to Kavanaugh’s recent vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that had guaranteed abortion access on the basis of Americans’ right to privacy.

The tweet drew criticism from some conservatives, including former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who decried what he called an endorsement of “the use of mob intimidation tactics” as “wildly irresponsible.” But Pete Buttigieg defended his husband’s remarks during a Sunday interview with Fox News’s Mike Emanuel.

“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,” Buttigieg said in a “Fox News Sunday” appearance.

He added that officials “should expect” public protests – especially after “an important right that the majority of Americans support was taken away.”

“As long as I’ve been alive, settled case law in the United States has been that the Constitution protected the right to privacy,” Buttigieg said. “And that has now been thrown out the window by justices, including Justice Kavanaugh, who as I recall swore up and down in front of God and everyone, including the United States Congress, that they were going to leave settled case law alone.”


Buttigieg Airlines

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington, May 16, 2022, as Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, left, and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, right, listen. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

After a draft of the opinion to overturn Roe leaked in May, some abortion rights supporters began protesting outside of conservative justices’ homes. With frustration mounting over abortion restrictions at the state level, advocacy groups like ShutDownDC have called for more public displays of dissatisfaction – offering service industry workers up to $250 for sightings of the justices who voted to overturn Roe.

On Wednesday, while a crowd was gathering outside Kavanaugh’s Maryland home, ShutDownDC said it had received a tip that the justice had “snuck out for a swanky DC dinner.” Its Twitter account then offered to share his location with its nearly 25,000 followers.

As protesters gathered outside Morton’s, the justice managed to leave through the back exit without eating dessert, according to Politico. The incident was soon condemned by the restaurant, which told the news outlet that “politics, regardless of your side or views, should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner.”

That statement landed Morton’s in hot water. Since last week, the restaurant’s Facebook page has been flooded by negative ratings, and its Yelp page no longer allows posts because of “increased public attention . . . which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news.” Some have made calls to boycott the restaurant across TikTok and Twitter, and thousands have reportedly made phony reservations.

In the Fox News interview Sunday, Pete Buttigieg – who has also been the target of protests over the years – denounced violence or harassment against officials but said that people have the right to challenge those leaders in public.

“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,” he said.

The transportation secretary also compared the Morton’s protest – during which “the justice never even came into contact with these protesters, reportedly didn’t see or hear them” – to the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, in which a mob “very nearly succeeded in preventing the peaceful transfer of power.”

“I think common sense can tell the difference,” Buttigieg quipped.

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