In-Depth: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced this bill 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.”
Original cosponsor Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) adds, “Permanently renewing the Supreme Court’s security is a smart use of taxpayer dollars and ensures the Court’s police have the resources they need to protect our Justices.”
This bill has one cosponsor, Sen. Sinema.
Of Note: Fix the Court (FTC), a nonpartisan group that advocates accountability and transparency at the Supreme Court, 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.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018.jpg via Wikimedia Commons)