The conference came amid new controversy over the justices’ security.
Supreme Court justices met Thursday for the first time since the bombshell leak of a draft opinion showing the Court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The private conference is for the justices only, no staff or aides are allowed in the room.
The meeting came as abortion rights activists showed no signs of slowing down, gathering outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The protests, while peaceful, have prompted Attorney General Merrick Garland — the nation’s top law enforcement official — to direct additional support to ensure the safety of the nine justices.
“Attorney General Garland continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices,” Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement on Wednesday. The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police.”
On Wednesday, additional height was installed to the already “unscalable” eight-foot-high fence erected outside the Supreme Court last week. The barrier was similar to that placed around the U.S. Capitol after the violence on Jan. 6, 2021 and it comes ahead of a large-scale protest planned for Saturday.
The increased security at the Supreme Court and for the justices comes as Republicans continue to blast the demonstrations, despite no reports of violence.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House won’t “condemn the harassment.”
McConnell also hit Garland for not doing more to enforce a statute some say makes it illegal for protesters to picket or parade with the intent of influencing a judge at a building or residence occupied or used by such judge.
“One would think a DOJ run by the former chief judge of the D.C. Circuit would need no prodding, no prodding to protect judicial safety and judicial independence. But at least so far the attorney general was quicker to pounce on concerned parents at school board meetings,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The governors of Maryland and Virginia have had to write a joint letter to the attorney general begging him to make his U.S. attorneys do their job and uphold the law.”
Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin wrote to Garland on Wednesday asking the Justice Department to provide “appropriate resources to safeguard the Justices and enforce the law as it is written.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that the administration believes in peaceful protest, and that “violence, threats and intimidation of any kind have no place in political discourse.”
But she also took aim at Republicans, saying those criticizing these protests were “silent for years on protests that have happened outside of the homes of school board members, the Michigan Secretary of State, or including threats made to women seeking reproductive healthcare, or even an insurrection against our Capitol.”
“I know that there’s an outrage right now, I guess, about protests that have been peaceful to date — and we certainly continue to encourage that — outside of judges’ homes,” Psaki added. “And that’s the president’s position. But the silence is pretty deafening about all of the other intimidation that we’ve seen to a number of people.”