The House of Representatives gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that would allow 24-hour security protection for the families of Supreme Court justices, a week after a man carrying a gun, knife and Bridle was arrested near Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s home after threatening to kill Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Justice.
The Senate passed the bill unanimously last month, but it languished in the House as Democrats sought to expand the measure to include protections for families of judicial employees. Republicans ramped up pressure to pass the bill after Kavanaugh’s home arrest, saying Democrats were essentially trying to intimidate justices as the court weighs a possible landmark ruling on abortion.
The House overwhelmingly approved the security measure, 396-27. All of the opposing votes came from Democrats.
“By passing this bill as is, we’re sending a clear message to radical leftists: You can’t bully Supreme Court justices,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said.
The Senate voted to expand security protections shortly after the leak of a draft court ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade and slash abortion rights in about half the states. Supporters of the legislation said threats to judges have increased since then, with protesters sometimes gathering outside their homes.
“We don’t have time to waste when it comes to protecting members of the court and their families,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the bill’s sponsor. “If, God forbid, something were to happen… embarrassment for the members of the House of Representatives. It would be to them for not having acted on this bipartisan common sense bill.”
Democrats noted that Supreme Court justices already have 24-hour security details. They said they also supported extending security to immediate families. But they wanted “a small concession” to include security for the families of court employees, such as paralegals who work for judges and help them prepare for cases.
“Democrats also want to protect employees and families who are threatened by right-wing activists,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.
But last week’s arrest clearly brought new emphasis to the bill and new pressure from Republicans seeking a vote. Democrats said they would seek protections for the families of court employees separately.
“We can no longer delay passing the only version of the bill that they would apparently accept,” Lieu said of the Republicans.
In the Kavanaugh case, authorities charged Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, with attempted murder of a judge. Dressed in black, he arrived in a cab outside Kavanaugh’s Maryland home around 1 am Wednesday.
He saw two US Marshals guarding the house and walked in the other direction, calling 911 to say he was having suicidal thoughts and also planning to kill Kavanaugh, according to court documents.
Roske said he found the judge’s address online.