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house Bill H.R. 4258

Should Supreme Court Justices be Protected by the Supreme Court Police Whenever They Travel?

Argument in favor

With the rising number of threats against public officials and the politicization of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court justices are bigger targets than ever. They should be protected by default, and the authority for this should be permanent to ensure there won’t be gaps in their protection.

Johnnie's Opinion
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11/10/2019
Like the President, Speaker Of the House and Senate Majority Leader, The Chief Justice and Associate Justices should be protected so that government leadership will remain intact should anyone attempt to "decapitate" our government.
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jimK's Opinion
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11/13/2019
It appears that the Supreme Court is the only leg of the 3 legged stool that supports our democracy that has not yet been fully corrupted. I hope it remains that way until we can replace/repair the over 2 legs which are currently corrupted and gettin pretty wobbly.
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NoHedges's Opinion
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11/13/2019
Right now, yes, definitely. And for the impeachment witnesses. There should also be swift justice for any and all threats made regarding their safety. Remember, the GOP believes an established precedent for breaking the law equals no culpability once caught. They have said as much this week in regards to Trump.
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Argument opposed

The Supreme Court’s justices are already free to request security whenever they travel. Rather than making this authorization permanent, Congress should do another limited duration authorization so that they can revisit the issue some time in the future.

Phyllis's Opinion
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11/11/2019
Not it it’s Kreepy Kavanaugh. Let him bring his beer buddies.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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11/13/2019
The biggest threat to the court are the 45 admin and Congress. Other that RGB (she is amazing) and Kidvannaw (we get PO notices for people like him) I’m not sure I could spot a SCJ on the street. I suppose there are also wackos outside of the White House and Congress.
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JTJ's Opinion
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11/13/2019
No they make plenty of money off of the taxpayers. They can hire private security.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate Passed on a voice vote
  • The house Passed on a voice vote
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
    IntroducedSeptember 9th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4258?

This bill — the Reauthorizing Security for Supreme Court Justices Act of 2019 — would permanently extend security protection for Justices of the Supreme Court outside the Supreme Court grounds. This would give the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police the authority to protect the Chief Justice, any Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and other individuals in any location. This would allow Justices to be protected domestically and internationally if necessary, mirroring the authority given to the Capitol Police and Secret Service as they protect members of Congress and the president, respectively. 

The current authorization to provide security for justices outside of Supreme Court grounds is not permanent, and expires on December 29, 2019.

Impact

Supreme Court Police; Supreme Court Justices; and the Marshal of the Supreme Court.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4258

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) introduced this bill to permanently extend security for Supreme Court Justices while they’re outside Supreme Court grounds

“Ensuring the safety of our lawmakers and justices is a nonpartisan issue. Our Supreme Court Justices—who preside over the highest court in our nation—should be afforded the same protections as Senators, members of House leadership and the President.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) adds

“Protecting those who have committed their lives to public service is of the utmost importance. I’m proud to support this legislation that will ensure our Supreme Court Justices receive adequate protection for generations to come.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced this bill’s companion in the Senate to provide permanent additional security for U.S. Supreme Court Justices

“I’m very pleased to be working with Senator Sinema on this necessary legislation to protect the Supreme Court. We live in volatile times and this bill will permanently reauthorize security for the Supreme Court Justices when they travel outside the grounds of the Court. The rule of law is one of the fundamental principles of democracy, and we should do all we can to protect our judicial institutions. I’m certain this bill will become law.”

Fix the Court, a nonpartisan group that advocates accountability and transparency at the Supreme Court, supports this bill: 

“If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: you can’t advocate for increased transparency in the judiciary without also supporting greater investment in security for its jurists… Currently, the Supreme Court Police are only authorized to protect the justices domestically, and they’re often hampered by the inconsistencies in the annual budget process. (Remember all those shutdowns?) Permanently renewing security funding for SCOTUS would ensure the justices receive the protection they need. In this time of increased dangers for public officials, our top jurists deserve to know that their security detail will be funded into the future.”

This legislation unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee with the support of two bipartisan House cosponsors, one from each party. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).


Of NoteFix the Court (FTC) reports that Supreme Court justices only get security protection during domestic trips outside the Washington metropolitan area when they request it, and aren’t required to have security coverage while traveling. Given the rise in threats against public officials in recent years, FTC argues that this policy “may no longer be wise, if it ever was.”

Gabe Roth, Fix the Court’s executive director, says the lack of comprehensive security protocols for justices (the current security policy is just over a page long) is concerning given potential threats and several aging justices’ “fading health.” 

According to records obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by FTC, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor might have faced threats on trips to New York and Massachusetts for which they did request marshals’ protection. 

The Supreme Court Police, one of the smallest federal agencies, is responsible for providing the Supreme Court’s protection. The force has about 125 officers, and is led by the Marshal of the United States Supreme Court (no relation to the U.S. Marshals Service). The Supreme Court Police handles protection for the justices in Washington and coordinates security when they travel abroad, and the Marshals Service, which is part of the Justice Department, picks up the security for domestic travel and is reimbursed by the Supreme Court.

To date, Congress has renewed the Supreme Court Police’s authority to offer off-grounds protections to the Supreme Court Justices nine times. Most recently, Congress passed a six-year reauthorization in 2013. This current authority will expire on December 29, 2019.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018.jpg via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Reauthorizing Security for Supreme Court Justices Act of 2019

Official Title

To authorize the Marshal of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Police to protect the Justices, employees, and official guests of the Supreme Court outside of the Supreme Court grounds, and for other purposes.

    It appears that the Supreme Court is the only leg of the 3 legged stool that supports our democracy that has not yet been fully corrupted. I hope it remains that way until we can replace/repair the over 2 legs which are currently corrupted and gettin pretty wobbly.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    Not it it’s Kreepy Kavanaugh. Let him bring his beer buddies.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    Like the President, Speaker Of the House and Senate Majority Leader, The Chief Justice and Associate Justices should be protected so that government leadership will remain intact should anyone attempt to "decapitate" our government.
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    Right now, yes, definitely. And for the impeachment witnesses. There should also be swift justice for any and all threats made regarding their safety. Remember, the GOP believes an established precedent for breaking the law equals no culpability once caught. They have said as much this week in regards to Trump.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    No they make plenty of money off of the taxpayers. They can hire private security.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    The biggest threat to the court are the 45 admin and Congress. Other that RGB (she is amazing) and Kidvannaw (we get PO notices for people like him) I’m not sure I could spot a SCJ on the street. I suppose there are also wackos outside of the White House and Congress.
    Like (11)
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    This administration shows just how important our 3rd Branch of Government truly is to America. If they request protection, by all means they should have it.
    Like (8)
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    ONLY for: * Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg * Justice Sonia Sotomayor * Justice Elena Kagan The other ones don’t deserve it.
    Like (7)
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    Yes, in this time of hyperpartisanship and rising hate crime violence, I do worry about the safety of many prominent public servants. We should ensure the justices are protected from physical harm.
    Like (7)
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    They can afford their own protection if they think it's necessary.If all of these public servents really served the real Americans
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    Yes, absolutely,unequivocally,yes.
    Like (5)
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    More police to protect SCOTUS! Maybe the final say-so in US laws should experience what we citizen/taxpayer are exported to each day from their decision. Judges who interpret our Constitution according to their personal opinion need to feel the results of their decision. I also understand the need for the 2nd Amendment for personal protection, just like having a private police force.
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    Only those justices approved by 60 or more senators!
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    As long as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Chief Justice Roberts and other legitimately appointed Justices have protection. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are not eligible for protection as they were appointed by an illegitimacy elected President who stole the 2016 election with the aid of a hostile foreign government, Wikileaks whose founder who is under an extradition order for releasing classified information to Trump’s campaign, and given millions in laundered illegal campaign contributions from foreign governments. They should removed from the bench on the grounds that Trump had no legal authority to appoint them. Their Senate confirmations were a kangaroo court. These are lifetime appointments and the cannot be allowed to stand. I’m all in favor of SCOTUS receiving Secret Service protection. But the Senate refused to hold confirmation hearings on Merrick Garland - a legitimate nominee made by a President with the authority to nominate him. This was purely political and has no legal precedent. Thirteen (13) presidents have filled Supreme Court vacancies during a presidential election year. Our first president, George Washington, established this precedent. In 1796, Washington nominated Samuel Chase and Oliver Ellsworth to two vacancies on the Supreme Court. There have always been clashes with Justices by protesters over decisions, But legally appointed nominees were not given confirmation hearings, and illegal nominees were pushed through against the will of the people. The government derives it’s power from the people. But when the will of the people has been subverted by a corrupt executive and legislative branch, they must be overturned and replaced by legitimate nominees, not political appointees. The system is broken and the only way to recover the rule of law is to unseat McConnell in 2020, defeat Trump, rescind all his lame ass executive orders and judicial appointments, reinstated the Iran Nuclear Agreement, opt back in to the Paris Climate Accord, put an end to the trade war with China, upend Trump’s tax reforms so we can begin to pay down the record deficit he created by allowing the wealthy and mega corporations to pay virtually nothing, placing the burden on the middle class and those living below the poverty line, adjust the poverty line to reflect the actual cost of living, restore foreign aide to Central America, reverse his white nationalist agenda, restore DACA and end this war on immigrants and asylum seekers and normalize government by the people and for the people once again. All evidence that Trump ever held office should be erased, but well documented by historians as a cautionary tale of what can happen without election security and an unnecessary electoral college. We can never allow a despotic, megalomaniac , narcissistic, pathological liar to jeopardize our democracy and our national security again! Here endeth the lesson.
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    we have to waste taxpayer money on grown offspring of trump---our supreme court justices deserve better than those leeches!!!!!
    Like (4)
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    Please protect the Justices who protect our laws & Constitution. They should be entitled to the same protection that the Congress & Executive Branch have in place.
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    Makes sense considering the current environment we are in.
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    Yes
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    For what they make they could afford their own bodyguards. But like any professional government high ranking employee, they get it for free. While regular government employees GS 14 and down would be penalized for taking advantages of a free drink on the airplane.
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    I would like to say that a majority of them aren’t, in my opinion, worth protecting. But if we offer protection to the legitimately fair ones, we have an obligation to offer the same protection to the crappy ones as well.
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