Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the safety of Supreme Court justices, after a leaked draft of the court’s majority opinion resulted in protests across the country.
“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,” reads a statement from Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley.
He added that Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices.”
The U.S. Marshals Service is tasked with protecting courts across the country’s 94 federal district courts. The DOJ statement didn’t specify what kind of additional support it would provide.
The leaked draft opinion, published on May 2 by Politico, suggested that the nation’s high court is ready to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which has for decades prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is considered “viable,” deemed to be at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. The opinion concerns the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, court file 19-1392.
Activists have been protesting at the Supreme Court building as well as outside some justices’ homes, including at the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Virginia, named as the author of the leaked draft. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh have also had demonstrations in front of their Maryland homes.
Barricades have been set up around the Supreme Court building amid protests, replacing shorter barriers that people were able to easily scale.
The Senate on Monday passed a bipartisan bill to allow the Supreme Court to provide 24-hour security protection to the immediate family members of Supreme Court justices.
Roberts had on May 3 ordered the Marshal of the Supreme Court to carry out an investigation into the leak, and said that the draft doesn’t represent a final decision by the court “or the final position of any member” in the case.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts wrote, adding that the “work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
A final opinion in the case is expected in late June or early July. It deals with the constitutionality of a law in Mississippi, the Gestational Age Act, that bans abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, only allowing it for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality.
The challenge to the Mississippi law was brought by the only licensed abortion clinic in the state. Lower courts had cited Roe and held the state statute as unconstitutional, before Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, which it agreed to in May 2021.
All the Supreme court justices are set to meet on Thursday, for the first time privately since the draft opinion’s leak.