House Democratic leadership agreed to bring to the floor Tuesday a Senate-passed bill that provides protection for U.S. Supreme Court justices.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, confirmed the bill’s vote, but would not indicate whether it would include Democrats’ own modifications that expand protections to court employees and their families.
The upper chamber passed its legislation on May 10 when protesters gathered in front of conservative Supreme Court justices’ homes following the unprecedented anonymous leak of a draft opinion that would have overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
Senate Republicans do not support expanding the legislation, which initially passed the upper chamber by voice vote, to include the family members of Supreme Court personnel.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said that if Democrats send such legislation back to the Senate it will not pass.
Last Wednesday a 26-year-old Nicholas Roske was arrested near the Maryland residence of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and later charged with attempting to kill or kidnap a U.S. judge.
Mr. McConnell and other Republican leaders demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, bring the Senate bill to the floor following Mr. Roske’s arrest, but Mrs. Pelosi resisted the calls to do so saying that the justices are currently protected and that House Democrats wanted to expand the scope of the protection in the bill.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Monday on the Senate floor that House Democrats want to change the original Senate bill as a “stalling tactic.”
“They still claim that the law clerks and other Supreme Court staff who are virtually anonymous to the public are in dire need of protection, too. I think this is transparently a stalling tactic,” he said. “It is a pretty lame excuse for not providing the Supreme Court Justices and their families the very same protection that Capitol Police provide members of Congress.”
But Mr. Hoyer said clerks face retaliation, citing whichever person may have leaked the Roe-overturn opinion.
“You think the leaker is anonymous and nobody cares about the leaker?” Mr. Hoyer told reporters Monday in response to Mr. Cornyn.
“What the House wants to do is to add employees and their families. This is all about families. The bill is about families of Supreme Court justices and officers. The House Judiciary Committee wanted to add employees to make sure that their families were safe as well as the Supreme Court,” he said. “I can’t imagine why McConnell and Sen. Cornyn would think that couldn’t pass the Senate.”