Hoyer promises quick action on bill to boost security for justices’ families

Bonnie Cash

House Democratic leaders on Wednesday vowed to move quickly on legislation providing additional security for family members of Supreme Court justices amid a fierce national debate over the future of abortion rights.

The Senate on Monday approved a bill to boost that security, with senators providing unanimous support for the legislation.

House Democratic leaders said they haven’t determined how exactly they’ll proceed on the issue, but they stressed the importance of protecting public servants of all stripes from violence of any kind.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he’s set to begin talks with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to decide on a path forward.

“Let me say emphatically: We need to protect Supreme Court justices and their families, period. We’re a nation of laws, not of violence, not of intimidation,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.

Hoyer emphasized that he hasn’t seen the Senate bill. “But we’re certainly going to look at it, we’re going to look at it quickly,” he added.

“It just passed [the Senate]. I want to look at it and talk to Jerry and see what kind of legislation we’ll put forward.”

Nadler on Wednesday supported the concept, calling it “a good idea.”

But not all Democrats appear to be on board.

Following passage of the Senate bill, Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said it would “take a lot of convincing for me to vote for this.”

In a subsequent statement, Torres suggested the legislation was a political ploy designed to misrepresent “peaceful” abortion rights protesters as a violent threat. She criticized the Senate for acting to protect the members of the court before passing legislation to protect abortion rights, which the court appears poised to overturn.

“It’s frustrating that the Senate would move so quickly to provide protections for Supreme Court Justices against peaceful protestors, but has taken so long to protect a woman’s bodily autonomy and her right to choose,” Torres said.

“These justices of course have a right to safety,” she continued, “and I implore protestors to continue to use peaceful methods to make their voices heard and encourage them to protest at official offices, but it’s shameful the Senate has passed this bill before addressing the safety and well-being of all women across the country.”

The Supreme Court has come under intense scrutiny since early last week, when Politico published a draft opinion by the court’s conservative majority that would eliminate the protections provided by Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion.

The news has stirred demonstrations across the country from activists on both sides of the issue. Amid outcry from abortion rights groups, some protesters have gathered outside the home of Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the draft ruling, as well as those of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In response, the Senate moved quickly this week to pass legislation to expand the domain of the Supreme Court Police to include immediate family members of the nine justices and “any” other court officers “if the Marshal determines such protection is necessary.”

Sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the bill was fast-tracked by a procedure known as unanimous consent, which requires the support of every senator.

Like Hoyer, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he hasn’t yet read the Senate bill. But he endorsed the concept of expanding security for any branch of government under threat of violence — an issue that’s been under the spotlight since last year’s deadly attack on the Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Trump.

“We’ll have an opportunity to review the particulars of the legislation. I haven’t. But I certainly support the notion that public servants should be protected in the strongest way possible at all times,” Jeffries said. “If anyone believes in that it’s House Democrats, who were almost overrun by a violent mob of insurrectionists on Jan. 6.”

Tags Hakeem Jeffries Jerry Nadler Norma Torres Steny Hoyer

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