Norwich Democratic alderwoman's social media post of Supreme Court justices' home addresses criticized
Norwich — The chairman of the Republican Town Committee is calling for the “immediate resignation” of a City Council Democrat after she shared a Facebook post that gave home addresses of five U.S. Supreme Court justices under the heading “GET YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS READY.”
Freshman Democratic Alderwoman Tracey Burto said she shared the post “expressing my First Amendment right on my platform,” and has no intention of resigning.
RTC Chairman Rob Dempsky forwarded a screenshot of the post in an email to City Council members and called on council Democrats to seek Burto’s immediate resignation, “so that you may replace her with a citizen who possesses the judgment and behavior that those who elected you to your positions both expect and deserve.”
Dempsky cited the recent arrest of a 26-year-old California man who drove across the country to the Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with an admitted intent to murder the justice.
“It is clear that this is meant to encourage similar behavior from fringe individuals who share Ms. Burto’s strident views,” Dempsky wrote to the council. “Rather than using her position to encourage reason and calm, she instead has chosen to engage in dangerous and borderline criminal behavior.”
Burto denied any accusation that she was inciting violence. The post made no reference to protests or actions against the justices.
“It was not my intent to make any threats, nor did I incite any act of violence,” Burto said Friday.
Council President Pro Tempore Joseph DeLucia and Alderman Derell Wilson, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, defended Burto’s right to post the image on her personal social media page, and said she has no reason to resign. Wilson said it was a “gross exaggeration” to compare Burto’s shared post to the arrest of a man planning to kill a justice.
Wilson compared her post instead to citizens sending letters to their elected officials expressing their opinions and disagreements with votes. “You can respectfully disagree with someone and send letters to legislators on issues,” he said.
DeLucia repeated that Burto did not make a threat or encourage anyone to violence. “Americans have the right to express their opinions on what their government does, and I believe that’s all she did," he said. "There’s nothing inappropriate about her post.”
Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom called Burto’s post “very bad judgment on her part, very bad.” He questioned whether the posting violated federal law by publishing the home addresses of the justices.
According to national news reports, similar posts of Supreme Court justices’ home addresses have been widespread on social media outlets across the country in the wake of the court’s controversial ruling June 24 that overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nationwide protections for women seeking abortions.
Protests have been held outside some justices' residences, which violate a 1950 law prohibiting protests and intimidation of federal justices.
Congress acted swiftly and overwhelmingly to pass a bill to extend security protections to Supreme Court justices’ families, in response to growing threats and protests against justices following the leak of a draft ruling indicating the court would overturn Roe v. Wade. Democratic President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 16, eight days after the arrest of Kavanaugh’s would-be attacker, the Associated Press reported.
The new law does not contain language regarding publicizing justices’ home addresses but expands security protections to 24 hours, provided by U.S. marshals, the AP story said.