McConnell Warns House’s SCOTUS Security Bill Won’t Pass Senate

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Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that if the House passes a bill to provide enhanced protection to both Supreme Court justices and staff, the measure will not pass the Senate.

McConnell’s comments come more than a month after the Senate first passed a bill on May 9 to provide around-the-clock security to the families of Supreme Court justices after the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft leak sparked protests outside the conservative justices’ homes.

While the measure had bipartisan support in the Senate, it has stalled in the Democrat-controlled House as some Democrats argue that the enhanced protections should extend not only to the justices, but to others who work within the Court. 

Lawmakers are facing a renewed sense of urgency to pass the protections after authorities foiled an alleged assassination attempt against Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

McConnell said Monday evening that he told House leaders that if they pass a version of the bill that includes protection for Supreme Court clerks, it will not pass the upper chamber.

“The version of the Supreme Court security bill that apparently they’re going to try to pass on suspension tonight is not going to pass the Senate,” he said, according to the Hill“The security issue is related to Supreme Court justices, not nameless staff that no one knows.”

Meanwhile, the version of the bill that offered protections only for the justices, which was drafted by Senators John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) received unanimous support in the Senate.

“All we’re trying to do is give the justices the very same protection that is available to members of Congress,” Cornyn said.

“Capitol police can provide protective details for people who are under imminent threat, but they don’t have the authority in the Supreme Court to do the same thing, and I think this is playing with fire,” he said. 

McConnell’s comments came after House minority leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday expressed frustration after House Democrats declined his third request for unanimous consent to quickly advance the Senate bill to increase security for Supreme Court justices.

Last week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Democrats’ decision to hold out for protections for Supreme Court staff members and to wait to hold a vote on the measure until the following week.

“This issue is not about the justices; it’s about staff and the rest,” Pelosi said. “The justices are protected; you saw the attorney general even double down on that.”

Yet McCarthy on Monday said Pelosi’s comment “makes no sense” given that it came one day after police detained 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske with a Glock 17 handgun with two magazines and ammunition, a tactical knife, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a screwdriver, and other gear in a backpack outside of Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland, according to a criminal complaint.

The man told authorities he called 911 because he was having suicidal thoughts. He told a dispatcher he had come “from California to kill a specific” Supreme Court justice, the affidavit said.

He told authorities that he was motivated by the leaked majority draft opinion in Dobbs that would overturn Roe v. Wade. He said he was contemplating “how to give his life purpose” when he decided to kill Kavanaugh after finding his address on the Internet, according to the complaint.

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