Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Garland Orders Supreme Court Security Amid Abortion Protests (2)

May 12, 2022, 3:43 PM

The US Justice Department will provide security services to the Supreme Court and its justices in the face of national protests against a pending decision to overturn abortion rights, a spokesman for Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

“The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement Wednesday.

The move comes as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. A proposal to enshrine abortion rights in federal law failed Wednesday in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Law enforcement officials, lawmakers from both parties and advocacy groups have been thrust into a polarizing political debate after a leaked draft opinion to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling, including what’s appropriate in terms of physical protests.

About 100 protesters marched to the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the suburbs of Washington last weekend, bearing signs and chanting slogans. A similarly sized crowd protested outside Justice Samuel Alito’s Virginia home on Monday.

Fencing has been erected around the Supreme Court, much like the barriers put up after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that peaceful demonstrations outside the homes of Supreme Court justices are acceptable.

“So long as they are peaceful, that’s OK with me,” Schumer said.

The Republican governors of Virginia and Maryland asked Garland to have US attorney offices in their states “provide appropriate resources to safeguard” the justices.

“It is in your hands to ensure that applicable federal law is enforced to preserve the integrity of our American judicial system and the safety of our citizens,” Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Larry Hogan of Maryland wrote in a joint letter to Garland on Wednesday. “In short, federal law prohibits picketing the home of a judge with the aim to influence the judge’s decision making process.”

The Senate unanimously passed legislation Monday to protect those who work at the Supreme Court and their families. House lawmakers are debating competing bills.

“I can’t think of any good reason why House Democrats would delay a vote on this bipartisan bill or worse allow the safety of the justices’ families to become a political football,” Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said.

(Updates with letter from governors starting in ninth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Madison Alder and Greg Stohr.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Chris Strohm in Washington at cstrohm1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net

Joe Schneider, Steve Stroth

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.