US senators quickly passed legislation expanding security for supreme court justices and their immediate family members, a week after protests at judges’ homes were sparked by a bombshell leak that revealed the court was ready. to overturn its landmark ruling legalizing abortion.
Sponsored by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn and Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons, the Supreme Court Police Parity Act approved on Monday unanimously and without objection. The bipartisan bill now moves to the House for consideration and, if passed, would head to Joe Biden’s desk for the president’s signature.
The Cornyn and Coons bill is generally intended to provide supreme court justices and their immediate family members with security equivalent to that afforded to members of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
It came after the May 2 leak of a draft opinion showing that five conservatives on the nine-judge bench had voted to reverse Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Conservatives celebrated the leak, which apparently left Roe v Wade on the brink of falling in the summer. But liberals protested against it, with some activists gathering outside the Maryland homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative associate Brett Kavanaugh to air their discontent.
Demonstrations outside the homes of Roberts and Kavanaugh were peaceful. However, in a statement Monday, the US Marshals Service confirmed that the agency was assisting the supreme court with “enhanced security concerns stemming from the unauthorized release of the draft opinion.”
Coons, in a separate statement ahead of the bill’s passage on Monday, added: “The events of the past week have heightened the focus on the families of supreme court justices, who unfortunately face threats to their safety in the today’s increasingly polarized political climate. We must act to ensure judges and their families are protected from those who wish to harm them by extending supreme court police security to family members.”
Coons added that family members of high court judges essentially “have the same profile and exposure as the highest-ranking officials in our government,” making them equally deserving of protection.
As for the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki issued a declaration Monday on Twitter warning protesters to “never include violence, threats or vandalism” as part of their demonstrations.
“Judges play an incredibly important role in our society and should be able to do their jobs without worrying about their personal safety,” Psaki said.
The Cornyn and Coons bill was not the only measure taken to tighten security around Supreme Court justices. Crews also installed an 8-foot-high fence that is reportedly non-climbable around portions of the supreme court building, and erected concrete barriers blocking the street in front of the complex.
The Canadian News
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