Supreme Court Justices Issue Joint Statement Addressing Security Threats
Former President Donald Trump expanded the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority by adding three justices to the bench, paving the way for landmark rulings including the repeal of federal abortion protections.
In response to their opinions on the hot-button issue, conservative justices received credible threats — and the full court issued a rare unanimous statement emphasizing the need for enhanced security.
Explaining the broad intention of the letter, justices signaled a desire to “provide new clarity to the bar and to the public on how the Justices address certain recurring issues” as well as to “dispel some common misconceptions.”
The full statement dealt with other topics, including Chief Justice John Roberts’ response to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL), who requested his testimony at a congressional hearing.
“Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence,” Roberts wrote in declining the request.
Furthermore, the letter appeared to indicate unilateral pushback against efforts by some Democratic lawmakers to require the same strict ethical standards of Supreme Court justices that are on the books for judges in lower federal courts.
As for the underlying issue of addressing threats against justices, the letter asserted: “A word is necessary concerning security. Judges at all levels face increased threats to personal safety. These threats are magnified with respect to Members of the Supreme Court, given the higher profile of the matters they address.”
Among the most notable examples of this trend include a man accused of expressing a desire to assassinate three conservative justices and extended periods of protest outside of justices’ homes.
“Recent episodes confirm that such dangers are not merely hypothetical,” the justices wrote. “Security issues are addressed by the Supreme Court Police, United States Marshals, state and local law enforcement, and other authorities. Matters considered here concerning issues such as travel, accommodations, and disclosure may at times have to take into account security guidance.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was among the prominent Republicans who denounced the backlash against justices in the wake of a leaked document last year signaling how the court would rule on the abortion issue.
“The harassment, intimidation, threats and destruction of property that we’ve seen since the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion are unacceptable, and no way to advocate for your viewpoint in a democracy,” he said at the time. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the court has been threatened.”