Congress passes bill to provide families of Supreme Court Justices more security

The House on Tuesday approved Senate-passed legislation that would provide security to family members of Supreme Court justices, sending the bill to President Joe Biden nearly a week after an armed man was arrested outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house.

The legislation passed the House in a 396-27 vote. All the “no” votes came from Democrats.

Democrats who opposed the bill include Reps. Joyce Beatty (OH), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), Veronica Escobar (TX), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Jesús García (IL), Sylvia Garcia (TX), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Steven Horsford (NV), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Brenda Lawrence (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Marie Newman (IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Bill Pascrell (NJ), Donald Payne (NJ), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Mikie Sherrill (NJ), Albio Sires (NJ), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Norma Torres (CA), Nydia Velázquez (NY), Maxine Waters (CA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ).

Passage in the lower chamber comes more than a month after the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent, meaning all 100 lawmakers signed off on the measure, allowing it to clear without having to go through a formal vote.

The bill offers “around-the-clock security protection” to family members of Supreme Court justices and “any officer” of the bench if the court marshal deems it necessary, protections similar to those of some executive and congressional officials.

The monthlong delay was the result of a standoff between the House and Senate: Democrats in the lower chamber wanted to pass an expanded bill that also offered protections to Supreme Court staff, including judicial clerks, if the court marshal deemed it necessary.

Senate Republicans, however, refused to pass that bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Monday that the House version “is not going to pass the Senate,” adding: “The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not nameless staff that no one knows.”

On Tuesday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) revealed that the House would vote on the Senate bill, sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

Asked why Democrats had decided to accept the Senate version as written, Hoyer said, “I can’t really give you an explanation, because adding more employees doesn’t seem like a very controversial thing to do.”

Hoyer added that he was “surprised” by the Senate pushback to the expanded proposal. “But it is what it is. And we’re going to move the bill,” he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made three requests to pass the bill by unanimous consent over the past week, all of which failed.

In remarks from the House floor Tuesday, McCarthy said he was “glad” Democratic leadership brought the Senate bill up for a vote but questioned why it took so long. “The House Democrats have delayed it for more than a month. The question the American public asks is, why? Why would you delay it?” McCarthy said.

“We have all known that additional security has been necessary since the Dobbs opinion was leaked last month,” he added, citing the Supreme Court leak before pointing to the assassination attempt on Kavanaugh.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), during debate of the bill on the House floor Tuesday, said, “In the interest of protecting the justices’ families, we can no longer delay in passing the only version of the bill [Republicans] would apparently agree to.”

He called the Senate bill “the best we can get,” adding in a separate comment, “I hope we will move swiftly another bill to extend protection to families of employees as well.”

Lieu blamed Republicans for delaying the vote, condemning his colleagues across the aisle for not getting on board with the expanded measure that also offered protection to families of employees.

“Let me tell you why it took us a few weeks rather than just one week to pass this legislation. It’s because Republicans refuse to protect the families of Supreme Court employees who are at risk,” Lieu said. “Shame on you for not doing that.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on the House floor said the bill “should’ve passed a darn long time ago,” adding that it was “better late than never.”




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