More than a dozen House Democrats were arrested outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday during a demonstration that involved blocking the street to protest the high court's June decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Capitol Police said they made 35 arrests, including 17 lawmakers, and that all were ticketed and released on site.
Among those arrested were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn Maloney of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Cori Bush of Missouri, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Jackie Speier and Barbara Lee of California, and Ayanna Pressley and Katherine Clark of Massachusetts. The lawmakers said they were engaging in an act of civil disobedience.
Ocasio-Cortez and Omar tweeted videos of their arrests.
"Today I was arrested while participating in a civil disobedience action with my fellow Members of Congress outside the Supreme Court. I will continue to do everything in my power to raise the alarm about the assault on our reproductive rights!" Omar wrote on Twitter.
Both were later accused by conservatives of pretending to be handcuffed, as videos and photos showed the two lawmakers led away by police with their hands behind their backs, in addition to waving to supporters at various points. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., called the arrests "performance, not policy."
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the criticism Wednesday. “No faking here. Putting your hands behind your back is a best practice while detained, handcuffed or not, to avoid escalating charges like resisting arrest,” she tweeted.
Pressley spokesperson Ricardo A. Sánchez said Tuesday that Pressley had “joined her colleagues and grassroots advocates for a non-violent civil disobedience to protest the Supreme Court’s cruel and callous decision.”
“She, along with several of her colleagues, was arrested as part of the peaceful demonstration and is currently in custody of the U.S. Capitol Police," Sánchez said.
Speier, 72, said in a statement that she had “never been arrested before, but I can hear the late, great Congressman John Lewis imploring me to ‘make some noise and get in good trouble.’”
"We must be willing to speak out for patients who have the right to basic health care, and the fundamental right to bodily autonomy," Speier said.
Capitol Police said they made arrests for "crowding, obstructing or incommoding." In a series of tweets, police said they had issued their standard three warnings to demonstrators to stop blocking traffic.
"Some of the demonstrators are refusing to get out of the street, so we are starting to make arrests," Capitol Police said in one of the tweets.
In a statement, Maloney said, "I have the privilege of representing a state where reproductive rights are respected and protected — the least I can do is put my body on the line for the 33 million women at risk of losing their rights."
"We will be back," said Maloney, who is facing Rep. Jerry Nadler in next month's New York primary after redistricting.
Congressional Democrats have held other protests outside the Supreme Court in the weeks since the conservative majority eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion. In late June, Rep. Judy Chu of California, who authored legislation that would codify the Roe v. Wade decision, was among 181 people arrested near the court.
The House passed Chu's bill in September, but Democrats lack the votes needed to avoid a GOP filibuster in the evenly split Senate.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to protect access to abortion. The order aims to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect patients’ privacy and access to accurate information; and promote the safety and security of patients, providers and clinics.