Senators swiftly pass bill to bolster safety for families of Supreme Court justices
Members of the US Senate on Monday passed a bipartisan bill that would extend security protections to immediate family members of Supreme Court justices, following recent protests at the homes of some justices.
The Supreme Court’s Parity in Policing Act was approved by unanimous consent, meaning no senator opposed its swift passage. The legislation must also pass the House before it goes to President Joe Biden’s office for signing.
The push to Congress comes a week after the Politico bombshell leaked a draft opinion, which indicated the court was set to overturn Roe v. Wade as early as next month.
Senators John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, and Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, introduced the bipartisan bill called the Supreme Court Police Parity Act.
“The events of the past week have heightened the focus on the families of Supreme Court justices, who unfortunately face threats to their safety in today’s increasingly polarized political climate,” said Cornyn in a press release ahead of the bill’s passage Monday night. “We must act to ensure that judges and their families are protected from those who wish to harm them by extending Supreme Court police security to their family members.”
“If the families of Supreme Court justices have the same profile and visibility as the most senior officials in our government, they deserve the same level of protection,” Coons added in the statement. “We must take seriously the threats that come from extremes on both sides of the political spectrum against Supreme Court justices, and that makes this bill an unfortunate necessity.”
The US Marshals Service said in a statement Monday that it was helping to address “heightened security concerns resulting from the unauthorized release of the draft notice.”
“The Supreme Court Marshal and Supreme Court Police are responsible for protecting the Supreme Court of the United States and its facilities,” the statement said. “The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) has a strong partnership with the Supreme Court Police, and at the request of the Supreme Court Marshal, the USMS provides assistance as needed.”
While the USMS confirmed it was assisting the Supreme Court Marshal, it declined to comment on specific security measures.
On Monday evening, ShutdownDC held a vigil outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the leaked draft opinion, and over the weekend, pro-abortion rights protesters gathered. gathered outside the private homes of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts in Chevy Chase, Maryland, outside of Washington, DC.
While protests across the country have been largely peaceful, law enforcement officials in the nation’s capital have braced for potential security risks. Last week, an 8-foot-tall non-scalable fence was installed around parts of the Supreme Court building, and crews installed Jersey concrete barriers blocking the street outside the court.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed protests outside some justices’ homes, saying they could be ‘absolutely illegal’, citing a federal law that criminalizes picketing with intent to influence a judge.
“Trying to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is well outside the bounds of First Amendment speech or protest; it is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs,” the Kentucky Republican said in remarks to the Senate on Monday.
This story and headline were updated with additional developments on Monday.