WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Senate unanimously passed laws on Monday expanding security protection to families of Supreme Court justices after demonstrators gathered in front of several justices’ homes over the weekend to protest the court’s apparent decision to gut abortion rights.
The bill was introduced last week by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the high court would overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.
Near 100 protesters chanted and waved signs outside the Maryland home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, then marched to the nearby home of Chief Justice John Roberts before police ordered them to disperse. More protests over the leaked draft are planned for this week.
“The time for civility is over, man,” a protest organizer told Bloomberg.
Happening now: Pro-choice protesters stand in front Justice Samuel Alito’s house in Virginia. Alito wrote the draft opinion that might strike down Roe v. Wade
“Fuck Alito, abort the court! Fuck these fascists!” are some chants from the group pic.twitter.com/Qq5ksNDhnP
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 10, 2022
Republicans immediately cried foul, accusing the activists of attempting to intimidate Supreme Court justices before the court issues its final decision on Roe later this summer.
Several GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — who voted to object to the 2020 electoral results after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — accused Democrats of “embracing mob violence” and called on President Joe Biden to denounce the protests.
“Attempting to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is much outside the bounds of normal First Amendment speech or protest. It’s an attempt to exchange the rule of law with the rule of mobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added in a floor speech.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Monday that Biden “strongly believes within the Constitutional right to protest” but that it should “never include violence, threats, or vandalism.”
“Judges perform an incredibly vital function in our society, and they have to have the option to do their jobs without concern for his or her personal safety,” Psaki added.
The organizers of the protest stressed that it was a peaceful demonstration; people marched, carried signs and yelled slogans corresponding to “No uterus, no opinion.” The protesters maintained that they’re simply exercising their right to protest a call that might affect tens of millions of Americans.
Coons, the Democratic sponsor of the Senate bill, argued that families of Supreme Court justices deserve the identical level of protection as families of other high-ranking officials within the U.S. government. He notably invoked the most recent Supreme Court appointee, who was appointed by a Democratic president.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans who tuned in to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing couldn’t miss seeing her husband and daughter on national TV,” Coons said in an announcement last week. “We must take threats that come from extremes on each side of the political spectrum against Supreme Court justices seriously, and that makes this bill an unlucky necessity.”
It’s not clear when or if the House is predicted to take up the bill.
The Senate can be expected to carry a vote later this week on laws geared toward safeguarding abortion rights across the country. But that effort is predicted to fail in a straight party-line vote attributable to a probable Republican filibuster.