The U.S. Senate on Monday passed legislation to expand security to the families of Supreme Court justices in the wake of protests erupting outside some of their homes in response to a leaked draft decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 10 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate have passed bipartisan legislation to expand security protection to the families of Supreme Court justices in the wake of protests erupting outside some of their homes in response to a leaked draft decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
The Supreme Court Police Parity Act -- which was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Coons, D-Del. -- passed the Senate on Monday by unanimous consent and now heads to the House for consideration.
"Threats to the physical safety of Supreme Court justices and their families are disgraceful and attempts to intimated and influence the independence of our judiciary cannot be tolerated," Cornyn said in a statement. "I'm glad the Senate quickly approved this measure to extend Supreme Court police protection to family members, and the House must take up and pass it immediately."
The measure was passed as abortion rights advocates have staged protests outside the homes of conservative justices who penned the draft decision overturning the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling to protect abortion rights that was leaked to the public last week.
On Monday night, ShutdownDC organized a candlelight vigil outside the home of Justice Samuel Alito, the man who authored the controversial draft decision.
Over the weekend, similar protests were held outside the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier Monday issued a statement saying President Joe Biden believes in the constitutional right to protest but condemns violence, threats and vandalism.
"Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety," she said.
During her press briefing later in the day, she said they have not seen violence or vandalism against any Supreme Court Justice.
"We are a country that promotes democracy, and we certainly allow for peaceful protest in a range of places in the country. None of it should violate the law; no one is suggesting that," she clarified. "And it should never resort to violence, to threats, to intimidation in any way, shape or form."
Officials have also installed higher fencing around the Supreme Court to shore up security as protests have been staged there as well.
From the Senate floor on Monday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused the protesters of harassing and attempting to intimidate justices by holding protests at their homes.
"Trying to scare federal judges into ruling a certain way is far outside the bounds of normal First Amendment speech or protest," he said, adding the demonstrations "may possibly be flat-out illegal."
Cornyn on Thursday when he introduced the bill argued it should be passed to ensure the families of Supreme Court justices are protected.
"The events of the past week have intensified the focus on Supreme Court justices' families who are unfortunately facing threats to their safety in today's increasingly polarized political climate," he said in a statement.