WASHINGTON — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called on the U.S. House to immediately pass a bill that would bolster security for Supreme Court justices and their families after the arrest of a man who authorities say was plotting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“House Democrats must pass this bill and they need to do it today. No more fiddling around with this, they need to pass it today,” McConnell said on Wednesday. “Pass it before the sun sets today.”
An armed man in his 20s found near Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, was taken into custody early Wednesday morning. The Washington Post reported he told police he was angry about a draft opinion set to overturn Roe v. Wade and wanted to kill Kavanaugh.
Last month, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that would provide Supreme Court members and their immediate relatives with security protection that is already granted to members of the federal government.
Dubbed the “Supreme Court Police Parity Act,” the bill was crafted quickly after a draft opinion set to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and justices received an onslaught of threats of violence. In the immediate aftermath of the leak, crowds assembled around the Supreme Court and justices scaled back their public appearances.
McConnell blasted the leak at the time and called for a criminal investigation to find the person who distributed the document to the media.
Democrats, meanwhile, focused their outrage on the forthcoming decision by the conservative court to eradicate a woman’s right to choose an abortion anywhere in the country.
The Kentuckian notably did not comment on the substance of the pending ruling, choosing to focus solely on the fact that it had been surreptitiously passed on to reporters, describing it as a “an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court.”
On the Senate floor Wednesday, McConnell surmised that the consequences of the leak had already been borne out.
“This is exactly, exactly the kind of event that many feared that the terrible breach of the Court’s rules and norms could fuel. This is exactly the kind of event the unhinged reckless apocalyptic rhetoric from prominent figures toward the Court, going back many months and especially in recent weeks, could make more likely,” McConnell said.
The House is in session on Wednesday and is debating several gun violence prevention bills, including a provision to raise the age limit from 18 to 21 to buy semi-automatic weapons and enacting “red flag” laws, which would allow courts to seize weapons from people exhibiting threatening behavior.
McConnell’s critics were quick to note his urgency to act on legislation to protect the conservative Supreme Court did not match his reaction to the massacre of students in Uvalde, Texas.
On Tuesday, McConnell said he was hoping to get a bipartisan outcome on school safety and mental health legislation, but said it was “way too soon” to predict how many Republicans would sign on to such reforms. He notably did not utter the word “guns.”
“We don’t have an agreement yet,” he said. “I hope that’ll be sooner rather than later. Almost everybody would like to get an outcome that is definitely related to the subject matter.”
He declined to say if he would support raising the age to legally purchase an assault weapon.
It’s unclear if Democrats would heed McConnell’s plea to pass the “Supreme Court Parity Act” swiftly.
“House Democrats have spent weeks blocking, blocking the measure that passed here unanimously,” McConnell complained on the Senate floor.