The Senate can move really fast when Republicans let it. On Monday night, the Senate used unanimous consent to pass a bill giving security to family members of Supreme Court justices, an issue raised just over the weekend by protests outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Peaceful protests, mind you.
The House will also need to pass the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, but that seems unlikely to be a problem. Self-righteous outrage about the peaceful protests outside the homes of some extremist anti-abortion justices has been at critical levels, fueled by a baseless rumor that Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade, had been moved to an undisclosed location, along with his family, out of concern for their safety. That rumor—which should probably be considered disinformation—was spread aggressively by right-wing media outlets and pundits.
There is good reason to offer protection to federal judges and their families in some circumstances—and long before the Senate rushed to pass the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, there was a bill intended to partially address that. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act was named for the late son of Judge Esther Salas, who was murdered by someone angry about a case Salas had presided over. Salas’ husband was also shot and seriously injured. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in December but hasn’t gotten a full Senate vote. This bill would make it harder for people to find out where judges live, and would, if Congress funded it, increase threat monitoring by marshals. Instead, it took a matter of hours for the Senate to move on additional protection for the Supreme Court.
This level of Senate concern for judges and their families also wasn’t on display when Donald Trump was attacking judge after judge after judge for rulings he disagreed with. For that matter, some of the Republicans so outraged at peaceful protests at the home of Supreme Court members are the same ones who’ve downplayed the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. But it’s not just politicians. “To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary,” the editorial board of The Washington Post moralizes. Yeah, guys, that ship sailed a while ago. What we’re talking about now is a draft opinion that leans on the legal writing of a 17th-century English jurist who pioneered the legal principle that men cannot rape their wives (even when they rape their wives), told juries to doubt other rape allegations, and sentenced women to death as witches. “Controlled, evidence-based and rational” is not happening, and it doesn’t help to pretend that it is.
Prominent politicians routinely face protests outside their homes. The right-wing members of the Supreme Court increasingly act as unelected politicians, so some protest is to be expected. Their actions have life-or-death consequences for millions of people and to pretend that they should be above any public response to that is unrealistic to the point of silliness. Of course, if there are identifiable threats to the justices or their families, they should receive appropriate protection—just as high-ranking politicians do. But the tone of outrage, the idea that the justices must be protected from any whiff of public accountability for what they impose on the people of this country, is a stale and offensive strategy.
It’s clearly been a terrifying, rowdy scene outside the justices’ houses:
Wouldn’t it be nice if those in power had 1% of the concern for the vulnerable people whose lives are affected by Supreme Court decisions that they did for the justices themselves?
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.