The House joined the Senate in a nearly unanimous vote to pass the “Supreme Court Police Parity Act of 2022”, a bill that expands police security to the families of justices and senior officers of the court. The Senate had passed the bill shortly after a leaked opinion indicated the court was set to overturn Roe v. Wade. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.
Tuesday’s house vote was 396-27, with all 27 no votes from Democrats. House Democrats had wanted to add protections for the families of clerks and other Supreme Court employees to the bill.
A widely-held theory is that a clerk was the one to leak the opinion. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pointed out that “virulent threats” have been made against the court’s clerks since the leak. Despite this, the provision was dropped after Senate Republicans objected.
“The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not the nameless staff that no one knows,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Monday.
House passage of the Supreme Court security bill comes less than a week after a California man was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home. 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske was charged with attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice after he allegedly threatened to kill Kavanaugh.
“This is exactly exactly the kind of event that many feared that the terrible breach of the court’s rules and norms could feel,” Sen. McConnell said on the Senate floor shortly after news of the arrest came out. “This is exactly exactly why the Senate passed legislation very shortly after the leak to enhance the police protection for justices and their families.”
While much of the attention is on Supreme Court security, the federal judiciary is also calling for separate legislation that would offer more protection for all federal judges. The U.S. Marshals Service said judges were subject to 4,511 threats and inappropriate communications in 2021.
Reuters contributed to this report.