Supreme Court justices face ‘heightened threat’ after overturning Roe v Wade, DHS secretary says

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US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that federal agencies have witnessed a “heightened threat environment” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to overturn Roe v Wade.

Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Mr Mayorkas said: “We are very mindful that the Supreme Court’s decision in reversing and overturning Roe v Wade has really heightened the threat environment and we have deployed resources to ensure the safety and security of the Supreme Court and the justices.”

Though Roe was officially overturned late last month, the tension within the country had been steadily rising since a draft opinion of the case was leaked by Politico in May.

Shortly after the leaked report, a California man was arrested outside the Maryland home of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh armed with a firearm and a trove of tactical gear. The suspect had called 911 early in the morning and told dispatchers that he’d travelled from his home on the west coast to Maryland to kill a specific Supreme Court justice and then kill himself, according to a federal criminal complaint.

He later told investigators after the arrest that he’d been motivated to action because he was angry with the conservative justice over the Supreme Court draft opinion, that in June would prove to be the foundational text for the actual opinion that struck down the landmark ruling that provided Americans a right to abortion access across the country.

“We do not condone violence, and law enforcement will and has responded to acts of violence when people do not honour their freedom to protest peacefully, but instead violate the laws of our country and the states within it,” Mr Mayorkas said Sunday on CBS.

Lawmakers in Washington have similarly responded to this potential threat of violence in their own way.

President Joe Biden signed a bi-partisan bill last month, just eight days after the California man armed with a gun, knife and zip ties camped outside Justice Kavanaugh’s home, that will provide around-the-clock security protection to the families of Supreme Court justices.

The DHS secretary was then pressed by CBS host Margaret Brennan about a march organised by a white supremacist group in Boston the day before, which attracted about 100 masked protesters carrying shields and flags emblazoned with traditional fascist insignias and adorned in matching uniforms.

“How concerned are you right now about these militias?” Ms Brennan asked, drawing specifically on the example ofthe Patriot Front rally in the Massachusetts city that happened less than 24 hours before the pair sat down for the interview.

“Margaret, I have said and this has been echoed by the director of the FBI, that domestic violent extremism is one of the greatest terrorism-related threats that we face in the homeland today,” Mr Mayorkas said. “Individuals spurred by ideologies of hate, false narratives, personal grievances, to acts of violence, and it is that violence that we respond to, and we seek to of course, prevent.”

“We are in a heightened threat environment.”

Hate crimes in the major US cities have steadily been on the rise in recent years. In 2021 and into the first quarter of 2022, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino found that there was a double-digit spike in hate crimes in the data assessed from more than three dozen police departments.

The report from the California-based centre found that on average, bias-motivated incidents in 37 cities went up by close to 40 per cent, with major 10 of the largest city centres stating that they recorded a 54.5 per cent increase from the year before.