The House on Tuesday passed Senate-approved legislation to increase security for Supreme Court justices’ families, in the wake of an alleged attempt on the life of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
The legislation, known as the Supreme Court Police Parity Act of 2022, passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 396-27.
“By passing this bill as is, we are sending a clear message to the left-wing radicals: You cannot intimidate the Supreme Court justice, and hopefully all take that message to heart,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said on the floor before the bill’s passage.
He said the measure should not have taken as long as it did, about a month, to pass the House.
“And it should not have taken a threat against Justice Kavanaugh to force an action that even Speaker Pelosi dismissed in a press conference,” Mr. McCarthy said.
The Senate unanimously passed its bill on May 10 to protect high court justices’ families, security that’s similar to protections currently in place for family members of certain officials of the executive and legislative branches.
The Senate action occurred after demonstrators protested in front of conservative Supreme Court justices’ residences, following the unprecedented anonymous leak of a draft opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
GOP leadership in both chambers became angered with House Democrats’ delay in taking up the Senate-passed bill.
They pointed fingers at Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York for inciting danger against the court‘s conservative justices, after 26-year-old Nicholas Roske was arrested near the Maryland residence of Justice Kavanaugh last Wednesday. He was charged with attempting to kill or kidnap a U.S. judge.
“Now, I don’t know if that young man who came all the way from California to kill a justice. If that’s what he thought Schumer was saying. What was it he said? ‘You will pay the price,’” Mr. McCarthy said. “I’m not sure Schumer understands that these words have consequences, and I believe he should apologize for contributing to this heated crime.”
Mr. Roske called a 911 dispatcher, and indicated he had suicidal feelings and planned to kill Justice Kavanaugh. He was found to be carrying a handgun, two loaded magazines, pistol light, tactical knife, pepper spray, hammer, screwdriver, nail punch, crowbar, duct tape and soft-soled boots.
The story gave more urgency to Republicans to demand that House Democrats bring the Senate bill to the floor after Mr. Roske’s arrest.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, told Mr. McCarthy last week that Democrats wanted to expand the scope of the Senate bill to include court staff and their families. But Mr. McCarthy refused, saying the lawmakers should pass the Senate bill as is before Congress recessed, and pass the remaining measures that Democrats wanted in separate legislation when they return.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that court justices were safe, despite protesters assembling in front of justices’ residences, including Justice Kavanaugh‘s home, even a day after authorities arrested Mr. Roske last week.
By Monday evening, House Democratic leadership relented and agreed to bring for a vote a clean bill that would provide around-the-clock security detail exclusively to Supreme Court justices and their immediate family members.
The bill is expected now to go to the White House for the president’s signature.
Correction: Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh‘s name was misspelled on one reference in an earlier version of this story.