House approves bill to boost security for Supreme Court justices after Kavanaugh murder plot

The House has passed legislation with a broad bipartisan majority that would allow around-the-clock security protection for families of Supreme Court justices.

Tuesday’s 396-27 vote came one week after a man carrying a gun, knife, burglary equipment and zip ties was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house and charged with attempted murder.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously last month, but it languished in the House as Democrats sought to broaden the measure to include protection for families of court employees.

Republicans sought to pressure Democrats into passing the bill after the arrest at Justice Kavanaugh’s house, claiming they were trying to intimidate the justices as the court weighs a potential landmark ruling on abortion.

All 27 votes against the bill came from Democrats, and all but two New Jersey Democrats opposed the law because they had wanted it to include measures to protect all federal judges.

In 2020, New Jersey US District Judge Esther Salas’s son was shot dead and her husband wounded by a misogynistic lawyer who was targeting her family.

Noting that Supreme Court justices already have round-the-clock protection, Democrats had also wanted to extend security for families of court employees, such as the clerks who work for justices and help them prepare for cases.

“Democrats want to also protect employees and families who are getting threats from right wing activists,” said Rep Ted Lieu, D-Calif.

But last week’s arrest clearly brought new emphasis to the bill and new pressure from Republicans seeking a vote. Democrats said they would pursue the protections for families of court employees separately.

“We can no longer delay in passing the only version of the bill they would apparently agree to,” Mr Lieu said.

The bill will now head to Joe Biden’s desk to be signed.

A US Marshall stands guard outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

(Associated Press)

Authorities have charged 26-year-old Nicholas Roske with the attempted murder of Justice Kavanaugh after he called 911 at around 1.40am last Wednesday saying he had travelled to kill a specific Supreme Court justice and then kill himself.

The suspect was found in possession of a backpack and a suitcase at the scene, which contained a black tactical chest rig, tactical knife, a Glock 17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, screwdriver, nail punch, crowbar, pistol light, duct tape, hiking boots with padding on the outside of the soles, and other items.

Following his arrest, the suspect told investigators that he was angry with the conservative justice over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would strike down Roe v Wade, overturning the landmark ruling that gave Americans a right to abortion access.

Associated Press contributed to this report


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