Senate eyes quick passage of security for Supreme Court family members

The Senate is moving to quickly try to pass legislation that would extend security to family members of Supreme Court justices amid protests at the homes of members of the court following the leak of a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced legislation last week to formally allow the Supreme Court of the United States Police to provide around-the-clock protection to family members, in line with the security some executive and congressional officials get. 

Two aides told The Hill on Monday that senators are aiming to quickly pass the bill by unanimous consent, which requires the buy-in of all 100 senators and would let it bypass a formal vote. One of the sources told The Hill that the bill should pass the Senate on Monday or Tuesday. 

“Given the ongoing threat posed to some of the Court’s Justices and their families, Sen. Cornyn is working to pass this bill as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the Texas Republican said. 

Any one senator could object and block the Senate from passing the bill without a formal vote, which would require Senate leaders to either shelve the bill or eat up days of precious floor time. 

The bill was introduced by the two senators on Thursday, roughly three days after the leak of the draft decision, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, that would strike down the constitutional right to an abortion. Politico, citing a source, reported that four other justices — Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett — were prepared to vote with Alito, giving them a majority to strike down Roe. 

Coons, in a statement, noted that both the daughter and husband of incoming Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the public spotlight during her confirmation hearing.

“If the families of Supreme Court Justices have the same profile and exposure as the highest ranking officials in our government, they deserve the same level of protection. We must take threats that come from extremes on both sides of the political spectrum against Supreme Court Justices seriously, and that makes this bill an unfortunate necessity,” he said. 

Cornyn tied the bill to the backlash following the leak, saying that the families of Supreme Court justices are “unfortunately facing threats to their safety in today’s increasingly polarized political climate.” 

“We must act to ensure Justices and their families are protected from those who wish to cause them harm by extending Supreme Court police security to family members,” Cornyn added. 

Roe V Wade newspaper headline on the United States Constitution

The report sparked near immediate protests outside the Supreme Court, where law enforcement officials subsequently put up a “non-scalable” fence. Groups gathered over the weekend to protest outside the homes of Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, while a group is also planning to hold a “vigil” outside Alito’s home on Monday night. 

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