House Democrats stall measure boosting security for SCOTUS justices, claim bill should include law clerks
A bipartisan bill that successfully passed in the Senate to ramp up security protections for Supreme Court justices amid ongoing protests outside their homes is facing pushback from House Democrats who say the measure should be extended to law clerks.
The Senate-passed measure, dubbed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., amid ongoing protests following a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court which signaled federal protections for abortion granted under Roe v. Wade could soon be overturned.
The measure would provide Supreme Court justices and members of their families around-the-clock security protection. The legislation also allows Supreme Court police to arrest individuals who interfere with the court’s ability to perform its duties and creates a criminal penalty for individuals who impede or obstruct those duties.
But Democrats in the House, including Democratic leadership, claim the bill does not go far enough in offering security protections and want it to be extended to others who work within the Supreme Court.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., in a statement released Friday, said the security protection should be extended to law clerks and staff who “have increasingly faced threats to their physical safety.”
“Violence or the threat of violence against judges, their clerks, or the families of judicial-branch officials is never acceptable,” Hoyer said. “Our majority is determined to protect those who serve our country in the federal judiciary, and we believe that this effort must extend not only to the family members of judges and justices but to the family members of the clerks and staff who support them and have increasingly faced threats to their physical safety, which is done in Rep. Stanton’s Supreme Court Families Security Act.
“While the Senate passed a bill this week that would extend protection to Supreme Court justices’ family members, we believe that it is critical to safeguard the families of those who choose to serve their country and their communities as judicial clerks and staff as well.”
The measure Hoyer mentioned, the Supreme Court Families Security Act of 2022, was introduced by Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz. According to his office, it would “allow the Marshal of the Supreme Court to authorize security for the immediate families of the justices as well as court employees, including clerks.”
“In the wake of the publication of a draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the need for adequate security for those in the judicial branch has become more apparent as some activists and news sites have ‘doxed’ — or published the private information of — multiple clerks of the court, publicly accusing them without evidence of leaking to the press and putting their safety at risk,” Stanton’s office said.
Hoyer said he hopes Republicans and Democrats can work together to “resolve differences between the two bills.”
Speaking to Fox News Digital Thursday, Cornyn said House Democrats are making the “unnecessary” additions to the measure to include individuals who are “not highly visible or recognizable like the justices are.”
“Now the House wants to do things like add law clerks and other staff to this, which is really unnecessary because virtually all the law clerks are anonymous,” he said. “They’re not highly visible or recognizable like the justices are, so they’re unlikely to need that kind of protection. Plus, our staff here even in Congress is not provided that sort of protection.”
Cornyn said he believes the stall in progress on the measure from House Democrats is “just a case of people trying to take something that is a good bill that can pass quickly and make it more complicated and to delay its ultimate consideration.”
Abortion-rights activist groups have been protesting outside the homes of justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito and others for several days. Several protesters have been associated with the abortion-rights group Ruth Sent Us.