In a sign of the times, the Senate unanimously passed a measure on Monday to extend security protection to immediate family members of Supreme Court justices. In addition, a “non-scalable” fence has been erected around the Supreme Court building.
Protesters recently gathered at the homes of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts. On Sunday evening, it was Justice Samuel Alito’s turn. Over 100 people chanted “abort the court” and held candles outside his Virginia home.
ShutdownDC organized the Sunday evening demonstration. The activist group said it cannot reach Alito at the Supreme Court so it went to his home.
Alito’s draft decision for possibly overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked last week and is what began the turmoil. Politico reports that four justices, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Justice Kavanaugh are ready to join Justice Alito to provide the five votes necessary to overturn Roe.
The Senate bill was presented by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and garnered unanimous consent from every member. This means it did not need a formal vote, and it now goes to the House. Funding for the extra protection was not included in the measure, but that may come later.
The Supreme Court Police Parity Act allows the Court’s police force to provide around-the-clock protection. Services now afforded family members of the justices are similar to security for families of certain executive and legislative branch members.
Cornyn said efforts aimed at intimidating or influencing the judiciary’s independence “cannot be tolerated.” Coons said that he is “glad” the bipartisan bill passed to protect family members of justices. He added that the bill is an “unfortunate necessity” due to extremes on both political sides — how many on the conservative “side” do you think were outside Alito’s home?
Before the unanimous vote, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell declared that attempts to intimidate federal judges into a particular ruling is “far outside the bounds” of constitutionally protected free speech or protest.