Attorney General Jason Miyares issued the following statement regarding the threats of protestors disrupting Catholic masses this Sunday.
“Some on the extreme left have responded to this week’s reprehensible leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion by calling for pro-abortion protests inside and outside of Catholic parishes this Sunday.
“I deeply respect the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. But no one has the right to interfere with the fundamental and natural right of all Virginians to practice their religion in peace.
“Virginia’s long tradition of protecting religious liberty dates back to the founding of our Commonwealth, when Thomas Jefferson penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that is now enshrined in our Commonwealth’s Constitution.
“As Attorney General, I am charged with protecting this sacred right for all Virginians.
“Federal law makes it a felony to intimidate, interfere with, or obstruct any person who is seeking to exercise his or her First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship. Similarly, Virginia criminal law prohibits obstructing the free movement of other persons, trespassing on church property, or obstructing proper ingress to and egress from a church. My office will be monitoring protest activities directed at houses of worship and will refer alleged criminal violations to the United States Department of Justice or to the appropriate Commonwealth’s Attorney.
“Furthermore, federal law authorizes states to bring civil suits to protect their citizens’ free exercise of religion. If protest activities directed at houses of worship cross the line to illegal obstruction, intimidation, or interference, I will not hesitate to bring suit to protect the religious freedom of the citizens of this Commonwealth.”