Anticipating imminent Roe v.
GovTrack Insider – Medium
Anticipating imminent Roe v. Wade overturn, Supreme Court Police Parity Act would provide enhanced security for justices, their families
Perhaps two Supreme Court justices already picked up fighting tips when Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer once played the violent video game Postal 2.
In early May, Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which found a constitutional right to abortion. The final decision isn’t expected until June, making it unclear whether that draft opinion will stand.
Still, the unprecedented leak has prompted security concerns. Progressive group Ruth Sent Us, named for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, doxxed the home addresses of six conservative justices on its website, although the group explicitly encouraged “peaceful” protests. Hacker collective Anonymous tweeted, “Repealing Roe v Wade isn’t going to go the way SCOTUS or the GOP thinks it’s going to go. Play with fire, get burned. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Expect us.”
Currently, Supreme Court justices do indeed have security, but while justices receive security protection within the greater Washington, D.C. area, they only receive protection outside that area if they request it — which they often don’t. When visiting the Caribbean in 2012, Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed of $1,000 by a man wielding a machete.
What the bill does
The Supreme Court Police Parity Act would provide security to Supreme Court justices and their families equivalent to that already provided to other top government officials and families in the executive branch (like the president and vice president) and legislative branch (like the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader).
This might mean Supreme Court justices could no longer decline their security detail, the same way that a president legally can’t decline their Secret Service protection while in office.
The bill was introduced in the Senate on May 5 as S. 4160, by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
What supporters say
Supporters argue that recent events, as well as potentially imminent events, make now the time to increase this level of security protection.
The leaked draft opinion is “not just an attack against the independence of the judiciary. This risks violence against members of the Supreme Court and their families,” Sen. Cornyn said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “That’s why, last night… I introduced a piece of legislation to enhance the authorities of the Supreme Court law enforcement agencies, to provide protective details for the judges and their families, who have already been threatened with violence.”
What opponents say
GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition.
A 2012 New York Times article quoted forensic psychologist Robert Fein saying, “Based on history, it’s tough to make the case that there should be mandatory protection” for Supreme Court justices. There has only even been a single attempted assassination of a Supreme Court justice, and even that was unsuccessful: an 1889 attempt against Stephen Johnson Field.
However, it’s unclear if Fein would maintain his 2012 stance a decade later, given increasing threats to justices.
Odds of passage
The Senate passed it with unanimous consent on May 9. As of this writing, it now awaits a potential vote in the House.
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This article was written by GovTrack Insider staff writer Jesse Rifkin.
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