Supreme Court police prepared for ruling on healthcare reform law

The Supreme Court is prepared to handle any protests that arise after the decision on President Obama’s healthcare law.

Court Public Information Officer Kathleen Arberg would not comment on how many threats the court received during oral arguments in the politically charged case, but said Supreme Court police are prepared to maintain security after the opinion is delivered.

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“The court has handled many high profile cases before and is prepared to handle it now,” she told The Hill. “The police are certainly equipped to handle crowds, should there be crowds.”

She said the Supreme Court police are prepared to collaborate on security with Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Departments if needed. Arberg noted that any individuals or groups planning on protesting in front of the court do not require a permit if they remain on the sidewalk and off the street or court steps.

Hundreds of supporters and critics of the healthcare law rallied in front of the Supreme Court during three days of oral arguments in March. Those protests were peaceful, but security remains a top priority for the court following a spate of recent attacks. 

In February, an intruder wielding a machete broke into Justice Stephen Breyer’s West Indies vacation home. The justice and his guests were unharmed, but the robber reportedly made off with about $1,000 in cash. 

That incident followed the January 2011 shooting death of one of the justice’s colleagues, U.S. District Judge John Roll, in the Arizona shooting spree that wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After an appeal from Justice Clarence Thomas to lawmakers, the Supreme Court was awarded an additional $898,000 in fiscal year 2012 for the hiring of 12 additional police officers.

The court employs more than 150 officers in total.

The high court is expected to deliver its ruling in what has been dubbed “the case of the century” sometime in the next two weeks.

The court has already added an additional day for announcements — Thursday, June 21 — in addition to the already scheduled dates of June 18 and 25. More announcement days could be added the week of June 25 if necessary, Arberg said.

Since the Court does not make public which decisions will come down each of those days, it’s anyone’s guess when the Affordable Care Act verdict will be announced.

“No one knows when the opinion’s going to come down, or when any opinion’s going to come down,” Arberg said. “We know that the remaining opinions, all of them, will come down sometime between now and the end of the term, presumably the week of June 25th.”