In Congress

GOP Bill Would Increase Prison Time For ‘Illegally Intimidating’ Supreme Court Justices

A new bill proposed by 10 GOP senators aims to deter activists from intimidating Supreme Court justices in light of protests outside their homes after the Dobbs decision leak last summer.

The group, led by Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, is introducing the Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act, which would make the prison sentence for violating a federal law that prohibits attempts to influence a judge’s decision making process five years rather than one. Blackburn said the act will “send a message that the Biden administration has refused to send.”

“As we saw last summer, the woke liberal mob will go to great lengths to target those they disagree with – even illegally intimidating Supreme Court Justices at their private residences,” said Senator Blackburn in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s extremely concerning that none of these protesters have been arrested for breaking the law, and the DOJ has not issued any guidance on enforcing this statute. The Protecting Our Supreme Court Justices Act will deter intimidation of our Justices and send a message that the Biden administration has refused to send: Justices must be allowed to do their jobs without fearing for the safety of themselves or their families.”

Marshals were instructed not to arrest protestors outside Supreme Court justices’ homes and to avoid criminal enforcement actions “unless absolutely necessary,” according to training slides obtained by Republican Alabama Sen. Katie Britt, which Attorney General Merrick Garland claimed he never saw during a March hearing.

Last year’s protests outside of conservative justices’ homes lasted for months and spurred an attempt to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Justice Samuel Alito said in a Friday interview with the Wall Street Journal, said the Dobbs decision leak made justices in the majority “targets of assassination.”

“It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us,” he told the WSJ.

In March, the Supreme Court asked for additional funding for security in its 2024 budget request. Congress also passedlegislation last June to expand Capitol Police protection to justices and court officers.

Senate Judiciary Democrats scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning on Supreme Court ethical standards, which Chief Justice John Roberts declined to attend. In his letter declining Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s invitation, he noted that safety needs to be taken into account in the conversation about ethics.

“Judges at all levels face increased threats to personal safety,” Roberts wrote. “These threats are magnified with respect to Members of the Supreme Court, given the higher profile of the matters they address.”

Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Katie Britt of Alabama, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and John Boozman of Arkansas joined Blackburn in introducing the legislation.

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