After Kavanaugh Protest Response, Morton's Is Advising Caution

Morton's The Steakhouse is being grilled on social media for its statement that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had "the right to congregate and eat dinner" after pro-choice protestors gathered outside the restaurant to protest his vote in the 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning the national right to access abortion care (per NBC News).

The protestors, having received a tip that Kavanaugh was inside, quickly assembled outside and placed calls to the restaurant demanding the judge be removed from the restaurant. While the steakhouse did not remove Kavanaugh, it was later revealed that he and his party left with a security escort out the back before eating dessert. While Politico noted that Kavanaugh and the court have declined to comment on the situation, Morton's condemned the protestors as "unruly" and said they "unduly harassed" Kavanaugh (via New York Post).

The steakhouse chain's defense of the conservative judge has led to an outpouring of criticism from political figures, including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (via Yahoo News and Politico), the media, and the public. According to Business Insider the chain's locations around the country have been bombarded with phone calls and fake online reservations under names like "Arnold Benedict," "Roe Wade," and "Pro Choice" (per Politico).

Morton's has no comment on the backlash

Since the July 6 incident, Politico reports Morton's has disabled comments on its Tweets and the chain's Yelp page has temporarily restricted reviews. Additionally, Politico obtained an email from Morton's COO and SVP Scott Crain reminding the chain's managers that "our comment is always 'no comment,'" and suggesting employees needed to be instructed not to discuss the situation or post about it on social media.

The backlash against the high-end chain restaurant has seemingly been fueled not by the D.C. location's refusal to remove Kavanaugh from the premises, but by its comments about the protestors. People, including columnists for Esquire and The New Republic have poked fun at the idea that the protests, which are protected by the first amendment and which The Hill notes Kavanaugh wasn't immediately aware of, somehow infringed on his right to privacy — the same right Roe v. Wade had used to guarantee abortion access under the fourteenth amendment, and which the court ruled does not apply in Dobbs because it is not explicitly named in the constitution (via Axios).

The ruling, and the implication that it could lead to the overturning of other "right to privacy" decisions, including the rights to contraception and same sex and interracial marriages, has caused significant upheaval, with protests taking place outside government buildings and politicians homes since it was announced on June 24 (via Bloomberg).