House to vote on security bill for Supreme Court family members

This photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
This photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington

The House is scheduled to vote on a bill Tuesday that seeks to expand security protections for family members of Supreme Court justices.

The bill, dubbed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, passed in the Senate by unanimous consent last month, which required that all 100 senators sign off on the measure in order for it to clear without holding a formal vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), would provide security protections for immediate family members of Supreme Court justices and “any officer” who works for the bench if the court marshal “determines such protection is necessary.”

That protection is equivalent to that provided to members of the legislative and executive branches, according to the bill. Supreme Court justices already receive federal protection.

News of the vote, which was announced by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office on the lower chamber’s daily schedule, ended speculation regarding which bill the House would take up to expand Supreme Court protections.

Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) introduced a House version of the bill that went a step further, offering protection to Supreme Court staff — including judicial clerks — if the marshal considered it needed.

That discrepancy has held up passage of any Supreme Court security bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday said such a version of the House bill would not pass the Senate.

“The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not nameless staff that no one knows,” he added.

Cornyn and Coons introduced the legislation days after Politico published a draft majority opinion that showed the bench poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that protects the right to abortion at the federal level. The case before the court involves a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The leaked opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and claimed that “a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history.”

Protests broke out at the homes of several justices following the draft opinion leak.

Republicans increased calls to pass the security bill last week after an armed man was arrested near the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The 26-year-old California resident, who was charged with attempted murder, said he wanted to kill Kavanaugh.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has since requested unanimous consent to pass the legislation, which has been blocked.

McCarthy took to the House floor on last Thursday to push for the bill.

“I once again come to the floor to try to protect our Supreme Court. Just yesterday, a man who wanted to kill Justice Kavanaugh was arrested outside the justice’s home. He was arrested with weapons on his person. Justice Kavanaugh has a wife and children. Yes he does,” McCarthy said.

“The Senate already passed a bill with agreement from 100 senators to enhance the security protection for members of the court and their families. And madam speaker, it has sat here for a month. A month,” he added.

McCarthy asked the chamber “how many times do they have to be threatened?”

“How many people have to be arrested with a gun outside their home?” he added.

The California Republican vowed that “every single Republican on this side would give unanimous consent” to pass the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk.

Tags Brett Kavanaugh John Cornyn Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell
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