Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. The Supreme Court’s official opinion could come as early as Tuesday, but until then, tension continues to grow. The safety of the justices and the court’s staff has become more of a concern. While the justices are not at the courthouse daily, protesters are.
The day after that draft opinion leaked in early May, metal barriers went up in front of the Supreme Court. It’s one of the few government buildings in Washington that never opened back up to the public as pandemic conditions improved. And that’s because of how important – and increasingly polarizing – each court decision has become in recent years.
Protesters have taken up residence outside the court ahead of an official opinion on the case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. But the justices are nowhere to be found at the courthouse, so protesters have taken their demonstrations directly to the homes of some justices. One protest took place outside the home of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
A California man faces a charge of attempted murder after he was found outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house with a gun, pepper spray and other weapons a little under two weeks ago. He told a dispatcher he needed psychiatric help, according to 911 calls released Thursday.
In the disturbing calls, Nicholas John Roske said he had been having thoughts about hurting himself and the judge. “Brett Kavanaugh the Supreme Court justice,” Roske says in the call. “And what were you coming to do, just to hurt yourself and him?,” the dispatcher asks. Roske responded, "Correct.”
The threat against Kavanaugh set additional safety measures in motion. The court allocates funds for justice protection through its Supreme Court Police, who protect justices and employees in court.
The U.S. Marshals Service’s Security Division is also responsible for the high court judges’ security outside the building. At the judges’ homes, that security is 24/7.
While the justices have security at their homes and at the courthouse, President Joe Biden signed a bill on Thursday extending protection to the justices’ immediate family members as well.
The bill will bolster Supreme Court security in light of threats made against justices ahead of their anticipated ruling curtailing abortion rights. Clerks and other court staffers do not have the same protections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.