GOP pushes for SCOTUS security bill after arrest near Kavanaugh’s house
Republicans are calling on the House to pass a stalled bill aimed at expanding security protection to the families of Supreme Court justices after police arrested an armed man near the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh early Wednesday morning.
The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent last month, soon after publication of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The leak sparked protests outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh and Justice Samuel Alito, who penned the draft opinion.
But the legislation has stalled in the House, where top Democrats have said that protection should also be extended to judicial clerks and staff.
The 26-year-old man California man who traveled to Kavanaugh’s house told a detective that “he was upset about the leak of a recent Supreme Court draft decision regarding the right to abortion as well as the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas,” according to an affadavit.
“This is exactly – exactly why the Senate passed legislation very shortly after the leak to enhance the protection for justices and their families,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
“The House’s Democrats have refused to take it up,” McConnell said. “That needs to change and it needs to change right now. Right now. House Democrats must pass this bill and they need to do it today.”
On the House floor Wednesday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) accused Democrats of espousing “heated rhetoric” that “has encouraged political pressure on conservative justices.”
He pointed to statements from former White House press secretary Jen Psaki encouraging peaceful protests outside justices’ homes and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying that Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch have “have released the whirlwind” and “will pay the price.”
“With words like that, and threats like these, Congress cannot afford to wait. We have a duty to protect the court, the justices, and their families from political violence and intimidation,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy requested unanimous consent to pass the bill, but the chair said the request cannot be entertained unless it has been cleared by the bipartisan floor and committee leadership. McCarthy said it had been cleared on the GOP side and Democrats were holding the bill up.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) reiterated to reporters earlier Wednesday that he thinks the legislation should be changed so Supreme Court employees are also protected. But said he had a “very positive discussion” about the legislation on Tuesday with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who cosponsored the legislation with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
“Supreme Court Justices are, in fact, being protected right now,” Hoyer noted.
Hoyer said that he hoped to move on the bill “relatively soon,” but declined to give a hard estimate on when that would be.
“We think the employees need to be protected. And, certainly, that ought to be in the judgment of the Supreme Court security officials, not just willy-nilly, just as it is here,” Hoyer said. “A decision has to be made by the Capitol Police as to whether or not they believe protections are justified.”
House Republicans have separately introduced a bill to criminalize Supreme Court leaks, led by House GOP Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson (R-La.).
Updated: 9:02 p.m.