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Garland orders Supreme Court security amid abortion protests

UPDATED: Wed., May 11, 2022

A police office stands by a fence during an abortion rights protest led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.  (Associated Press)
A police office stands by a fence during an abortion rights protest led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (Associated Press)
By Chris Strohm Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Justice Department will provide security services to the Supreme Court and its justices in the face of national protests against a pending decision to overturn abortion rights, a spokesman for Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

“The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement Wednesday.

The move comes as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. A proposal to enshrine abortion rights in federal law failed Wednesday in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Law enforcement officials, lawmakers from both parties and advocacy groups have been thrust into a polarizing political debate after a draft opinion leaked with regard to the Roe v. Wade ruling, including what’s appropriate in terms of physical protests.

About 100 protesters marched to the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the suburbs of Washington last weekend, bearing signs and chanting slogans. A similarly sized crowd protested outside Justice Samuel Alito’s Virginia home on Monday.

Fencing has been erected around the Supreme Court, much like the barriers put up after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that peaceful demonstrations outside Supreme Court justices’ houses are acceptable.

“So long as they are peaceful, that’s OK with me,” Schumer said.

The Senate unanimously passed legislation Monday to protect those who work at the Supreme Court and their families. House lawmakers are debating competing bills.

“I can’t think of any good reason why House Democrats would delay a vote on this bipartisan bill or worse allow the safety of the justices’ families to become a political football,” said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn.

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