U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announces charges against a Ukrainian suspect and a Russian citizen in the July ransomware attack on a U.S. company during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, November 8, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
US Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to prevent violent protests against Supreme Court ruling on Friday reversing his landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, urging protesters to keep the peace.
“Attorneys with different views on this issue have the right and will express their opinion,” Garland said in a statement. “Peaceful expression of views is protected by the First Amendment. But we must clearly understand that violence and threats of violence are not. The Department of Justice will not tolerate such action.”
He added that the Justice Department “strongly disagrees” with the court’s decision and will “work tirelessly to protect and promote reproductive freedom.”
“The Supreme Court overturned a well-established right that had been an important component of women’s freedom for half a century — a right that guaranteed women the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society,” Garland said. “And by abandoning this fundamental right, which it has repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the Court has turned the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law, upside down.”
Garland added that Friday’s ruling “delivers a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States.”
He noted that his influence would disproportionately affect people of color and those with the least financial means.
The Justice Department will continue to protect the right to abortion in states where access to it is still allowed, he said. While travel for medical care is not always possible, “women living in states where access to comprehensive reproductive care is prohibited should be able to seek such care in states where it is legal,” he said.
He added that people should remain “free to inform and advise each other about reproductive assistance available in other states” in accordance with First Amendment principles.
The Justice Department will also work with other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, “who are seeking to use their legal authority to protect and maintain access to reproductive care,” he said. Garland noted that the FDA has approved the use of the drug mifepristone, which is used for safe abortion at home, and said states cannot ban the drug “based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert opinion on its safety and efficacy.”
“The Justice Department will use every means at our disposal to protect reproductive freedom,” Garland said. “And we will not deviate from this Department’s fundamental responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”