Abortion-rights advocates stage a protest outside the house of U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on May 11, 2022 in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images
The House gave final approval Tuesday to laws that will allow around-the-clock security protection for families of Supreme Court justices, one week after a person carrying a gun, knife and zip ties was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house after threatening to kill the justice.
The Senate passed the bill unanimously last month, but it surely languished within the House as Democrats sought to broaden the measure to incorporate protection for families of court employees. Republicans ramped up pressure to pass the bill after the arrest at Kavanaugh’s house, asserting that Democrats were essentially attempting to intimidate the justices because the court weighs a possible landmark ruling on abortion.
The House passed the safety measure overwhelmingly, 396-27. The entire votes in opposition got here from Democrats.
“By passing this bill as is, we’re sending a transparent message to left wing radicals: you can’t intimidate Supreme Court justices,” said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.
The Senate voted to expand security protections shortly after the leak of a draft court opinion that will overrule Roe v. Wade and sharply curtail abortion rights in roughly half the states. Supporters of the laws said threats to the justices have increased since then, with protesters sometimes gathering outside their homes.
“We do not have time to spare when it comes protecting the members of the court and their families,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the bill’s sponsor. “If, heaven forbid, something were to occur … shame on members of the House of Representatives. It could be on them for his or her failure to act on this commonsense, bipartisan bill.”
Democrats noted that the Supreme Court justices have already got round the clock security details. They said in addition they supported extending security to immediate families. But they wanted “one itty bitty concession” to incorporate security for families of court employees, akin to the law clerks who work for the justices and help them prepare for cases.
“Democrats need to also protect employees and families who’re getting threats from right wing activists,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.
But last week’s arrest clearly brought recent emphasis to the bill and recent pressure from Republicans looking for a vote. Democrats said they’d pursue the protections for families of court employees individually.
“We will not delay in passing the one version of the bill they’d apparently comply with,” Lieu said of Republicans.
Within the Kavanaugh case, authorities have charged Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, with the attempted murder of a justice. Clad in black, he arrived by taxi outside Kavanaugh’s Maryland home around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
He spotted two U.S. marshals who were guarding the home and walked in the opposite direction, calling 911 to say he was having suicidal thoughts and in addition planned to kill Kavanaugh, in response to court documents.
Roske said he found the justice’s address on the web.