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Justices’ Families Get New Security in Senate Passed Bill (1)

May 9, 2022, 11:18 PMUpdated: May 10, 2022, 1:18 AM

Family members of Supreme Court justices would have security protection under a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate.

Swift passage of the Supreme Court Police Parity Act (S. 4160) comes after a leaked draft opinion showing a majority of the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade has prompted protests outside the homes of conservative justices.

“The events of the past week have intensified the focus on Supreme Court Justices’ families, who are unfortunately facing threats to their safety in today’s increasingly polarized political climate,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who introduced the bill last week with Chris Coons (D-Del.).

The bill, which passed by unanimous consent, would provide the same protections that the families of certain congressional and executive branch officials already have, according to the co-sponsors.

The Marshal of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court police can currently protect justices, guests of the Supreme Court, and court officers and employees performing official duties. The legislation adds immediate family members of the justices or officers of the court to that list.

“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,” Coons said in a statement last week.

Shortly after the bill passed, about 100 protesters chanted “keep abortion safe and legal” and “no uterus, no say” as they marched in the residential Alexandria, Virginia, neighborhood where Justice Samuel Alito lives before stopping in front of his home.

A crowd of roughly the same size marched on May 7 from Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to Chief Justice John Roberts’ residence about a half-mile away.

At a May 5 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called protests at the homes of justices or other public officials “demeaning and adolescent.”

“There is no room for mob action, intimidation, or any personal threats against a public official, period. Whether it involves their home or otherwise, it is out of line,” Durbin said.

(Updates with reference to protest at Justice Alito's residence.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com