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Garland directs U.S. Marshals to make sure Supreme Court justices’ safety after abortion draft

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A pedestrian walks past non-scalable fencing after it was installed overnight across the U.S. Supreme Court Constructing amid ongoing abortion-rights demonstrations May 5, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

The pinnacle of the Department of Justice on Wednesday directed the U.S. Marshals Service to “help ensure” the security of Supreme Court justices after the leak of a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade stoked fierce outrage from abortion-rights supporters.

The draft, which showed the court poised to strike down the legal protections for abortion that had stood for nearly 50 years, spurred activists to protest on the Supreme Court constructing — and outdoors a few of the conservative justices’ homes.

Attorney General Merrick Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

Garland, himself a former Supreme Court nominee, “directed the U.S. Marshals Service to assist make sure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” the DOJ said.

Chief Justice John Roberts had ordered the marshal of the high court to analyze the virtually unprecedented leak. Roberts noted that the primary draft, penned by conservative Justice Samuel Alito and reportedly circulated in February, doesn’t represent a final decision within the case.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it would not succeed,” the chief justice said in a press release. “The work of the Court won’t be affected in any way.”

The leak has prompted breathless speculation concerning the politicization of the high court, where the conservative justices hold a 6-3 majority following the appointment of three of former President Donald Trump’s nominees. Critics and a few legal experts warn that the legal reasoning from Alito’s draft might be used to reverse other rights, reminiscent of same-sex marriage.

Protesters gathered on the Supreme Court constructing, where barricades and fencing were arrange to maintain the crowds at bay.

Some have also shown up at Alito’s home in Virginia, in addition to the Maryland homes of Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Conservatives and right-leaning media decried those demonstrations, accusing the protesters of attempting to intimidate the justices.

But others have defended the protesters who went to the justices’ homes. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Tuesday if he was comfortable with the trend, said, “If the protests are peaceful, yes.”

“My house, there’s protests three, 4 times per week outside my house. That is — the American solution to peacefully protest is OK,” Schumer said. “So so long as they’re peaceful, that is OK with me.”

On Monday, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that might extend security protections to the justices’ immediate relations.

A final opinion within the abortion case is anticipated to come back out near the top of the court’s term in late June or early July. The nine justices are scheduled to collect Thursday for his or her first private meeting since Alito’s draft leaked.

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