The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would extend police protection to the immediate families of Supreme Court justices.
It now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The vote was 396 approving the measure and 27 Democrats opposed it. Those Democrats wanted to extend the protections to the families of court employees.
Threats against the justices, their families and Supreme Court staff increased after Politico published a draft opinion, which if rendered by the court, would essentially repeal Roe v. Wade – the landmark case that made abortion legal in the country.
The leak of the draft opinion led to protests outside justices’ houses and to a fence being errected around the Supreme Court buildng in efforts to increase security.
But Democrats were unsuccessful in their attempt to add in protections for court employees.
The House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would extend police protection to the immediate families of Supreme Court justices
The legislation moved quickly through the House after an armed man was arrested last week near the Maryland home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, threatening to kill him and his family – it had already been passed by the Senate
Police officers stand outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in anticipation of an abortion-rights demonstration
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Senator John Cornyn, one of the bill’s authors, said that an amended bill would not have the votes to pass in the upper chamber.
‘It’s just incredible to me they said the Senate would not vote to protect employees,’ House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Monday evening.
Republicans argued the court staff are little-known figures to the public so they are not in need of protection.
Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, co-authored the Supreme Court Police Parity Act with Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
The legislation was passed unanimously by all 100 senators in early May – just days after the leak of the draft opinion.
The legislation had already been approved by the Senate when an armed man was arrested last week near the Maryland home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, threatening to kill him and his family.
It moved quickly through the House after the Kavanaugh incident.
Despite its bipartisan support in the House, there was tension surrounding its passage after Republicans accused Democrats of slow walking the bill to passage.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has requested unanimous consent three times in the span of one week in an attempt to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Each time his request was denied when Democrats refused to agree.
‘For the 3rd time in a week, I’m calling for a vote for stronger security for Supreme Court Justices—ALL of them,’ McCarthy tweeted along with a five-minute clip from the House floor urging passage of the bill.
‘This isn’t partisan,’ he insisted. ‘The threat is real.’
‘Why is Speaker Pelosi blocking something that the Senate has already passed unanimously?’
When McCarthy asked Thursday for unanimous consent on the bill for the second time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that it could wait until the following week.
‘The Justices are protected,’ Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing last Thursday.
‘There will be a bill,’ she added, ‘but nobody is in danger over the weekend because of not having a bill.’
McCarthy responded during his own weekly briefing that same day with: ‘I don’t know how she can say that.’
He pointed to the fact that a man was arrested near conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland last Wednesday for a plot to kill the jurist and then himself.
‘So was he not in any threat yesterday?’ McCarthy questioned. ‘Was he not in any threat after Schumer made his threats in the Supreme Court? Or Jen Psaki said it was the president’s position to go to their home?’
‘I have no idea why the Democrats have held that bill for a month,’ McCarthy added. ‘I think they may be playing politics.’
The Coons-Cornyn bill will allow the Supreme Court Police to provide ‘around-the-clock security protection’ to the families of Supreme Court Justices.
Several, including Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, have faced protests outside their homes since the report last month showed the bench preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade – ending federal protections for the right to an abortion.
Security has already dramatically ramped up outside Justices’ D.C.-area homes and around the Supreme Court building, where a seven-foot tall, non-scalable fence was erected in May to keep protesters, demonstrators and other threats clear from the building and its employees.
Security fencing is seen outside the U.S. Supreme Court
Security has increase outside the houses of Supreme Court Justices as protesters rally outside their D.C.-area homes and wage threats against the bench members who are preparing to overturn the 50-year-old landmark abortion case
Pro-choice protesters pass in front of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Chevy Chase, MD, as Montgomery County Police and federal marshals stand guard
A ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will take place before the end of June. The ruling could overturn a 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973 that gave women the right to terminate their pregnancy nationwide.
Thirteen different states have trigger laws that would immediately ban abortion outright if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Following the leak in early May, Chief Justice Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion by conservative Justice Samuel Alito and launched an investigation into the unprecedented breach.
Roberts does not support a full Roe v. Wade overturn, but with a 6-3 conservative majority on the bench, his defection doesn’t make a difference for if the new opinion will stand as long as the five others stay in line.
The Chief Justices does, however, support a ban at the 15-week point in a pregnancy, which is the case brought before the Supreme Court that restruck the abortion debate.