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27 Democrats Who Voted Against Better Protecting Supreme Court Justices Dragged Through the Mud

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted, finally, to better protect justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. While the bill, the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, did pass and heads to President Joe Biden for him to sign, it was not unanimous, as I covered at the time. The vote was 396-27, with all 27 'no' votes coming from Democrats. Meanwhile, the bill had passed with unanimous consent last month in the U.S. Senate. 

The 'no' votes included Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Joyce Beatty (OH), Cori Bush (MO), Veronica Escobar (TX), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Jesus Garcia (IL), Sylvia Garcia (TX), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Steven Horsford (NV), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Brenda Lawrence (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Marie Newman (IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Bill Pascrell (NJ), Donald Payne (NJ), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Mikie Sherrill (NJ), Albio Sires (NJ), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Norma Torres (CA), Nydia Velázquez (NY), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), and Maxine Waters (CA). 

Many members belong to the squad, including Rep. Bush, who quite memorably last August defended private security while calling to defund the police. It was revealed in April that her total cost on private security for one election cycle amounted to $300,000. 

Heightened protection for members of Congress, including Rep. Bush, are okay, but not for the rest of us, not even justices, apparently. 

There's similar hypocrisy when it comes to January 6. Jessica Chasmar reported for Fox News earlier on Wednesday, 22 of the 27 Democrats had approved extra security for themselves after the Capitol riot:

Many of the same Democrats who voted "nay" on the bill voted "yea" last May on an expanded budget of $1.9 billion for extra Capitol security following the Jan. 6 riot. That measure, which narrowly passed the House without a single Republican vote, included millions of dollars in funding for increased security for federal judges and Congress members, including in their district offices throughout the U.S., as well as travel security for Congress members.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who both voted against Tuesday’s bill, were among a group of Democrats who sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot demanding an increase to their Members' Representational Allowances, or MRAs, to pay for personal security in their home districts by hiring local law enforcement and other personnel. 

At the time, Pelosi argued that Congress members shouldn’t have to dip into their MRAs for security and that an appropriations supplemental bill would be necessary. Months later, Jayapal, Escobar and 20 more Democrats who voted against Tuesday’s bill voted in favor of the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act to increase their own security.

Of the 27 Democrats, seven came from New Jersey, including members who are considered moderate, such as Rep. Gottheimer, and those in particularly embattled races, such as Rep. Malinowski. 

Chasmar made reference to a press release from the New Jersey Democrats in question who insisted that the legislation also protect federal judges and their family members. They pointed to an instance where a federal judge's son was shot and killed. 

"We stood alongside our friend Judge Esther Salas and voted no today because we could not support passing legislation that continues to ignore the pleas of all federal judges for greater security. Federal judges regularly face threats to their safety as well as their families due to their work to protect our communities and our democracy. Tragically, too often these threats are followed by actual violence. On July 19, 2020, a man who had appeared before Judge Esther Salas in her court came to her door dressed as a FedEx delivery man. He found her address with an easy online search. Her only child, 20-year-old Daniel, answered the door of her home and was shot 3 times and killed. Her husband was shot and is still recovering," the statement included in the press release read in part. 

The statement also called for passing the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act

Rep. Gottheimer also appeared on Fox News' "America's Newsroom" Wednesday morning to answer to his 'no' vote, during which he tried to claim "obviously I feel strongly we've got to protect the justices at the Supreme Court and their families," adding "but you've also got to protect judges in our states who are under threat every day for what happens in their courtrooms."

While many other Democrats have been less forthcoming, Rep. Gottheimer answered "of course" that protesters who show up outside the justices' homes to intimidate them should be arrested, emphasizing it's "outrageous" and "totally unacceptable." He also spoke about the need for more funding for law enforcement, including so that they can "take action against those who people who are threatening judges and justices."

Such a reasonable position did not match up with the congressman's vote on the bill at hand, though. 

House Democrats had also insisted that the legislation protect judicial clerks and their families, thus protecting the person who leaked the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, showing that the Court looks to be overturning Roe. Since the leak, there has been an uptick in violence and vandalism against pro-life organizations, as even White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has acknowledged. There have also been protesters outside the homes of conservative justices. 

As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reminded in calling out Democrats for the delay on Tuesday, it had to take a murder plot against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) largely dismissed such safety concerns. 

Democrats received some backlash over Twitter, as "27 Democrats" was trending on Twitter. 

The Wall Street Journal editorial board also called out those members in a strongly worded and aptly titled piece from earlier on Wednesday, "27 Democrats vs. Supreme Court Protection."

The editorial calls Speaker Pelosi's delay "an embarrassment." It also has a message for President Joe Biden:

But wait: 27 nays? Yes, more than two dozen Democrats voted against sensible protections. The dishonor roll includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.); Pramila Jayapal (Wash.); and Josh Gottheimer, Tom Malinowski and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey. That’ll show Justice Kavanaugh and his wife.

President Biden would be wise to sign the bill immediately, and tell members of his own party to call off the intimidation campaign against the High Court. The rancor of American politics today will look quaint if political violence harms a Justice and changes the makeup of the Court.

Best of luck to the Wall Street Journal on that request. While Biden supports the bill, or so we've been told by the White House, he has failed to directly condemn or even address the murder plot against Kavanaugh, the protests outside justices homes, or violence and vandalism that has targeted pregnancy pro-life centers, other than in one instance of a firebombing last month. 

Meanwhile, Republicans still continue to call on the Biden administration to sufficiently protect the justices. A letter dated June 15 from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to enforce federal law when it comes to Title 18, Section 1507 of the U.S. Code. 

The Senators called the assassination attempt against Kavanaugh "foreseen," and warned that "the situation is only escalating," pointing to how protesters continue to appear outside of the justices' homes and will reportedly target their children's schools. 

Towards the closing of their letter the Senators inform Garland "We want to know why you aren't prosecuting these Section 1507 violations. We are aware that President Biden has endorsed home protests for Justices, but as you told us repeatedly, your decisions whom to prosecute would not be decided by the White House. Is White House policy keeping you from bringing charges? If not, tell us. Or tell our staff," the letter charges.  "If there is a good reason why you aren't charging these obvious crimes, explain it to you. We want to understand. The situation is too dire and too important for more meaningless boilerplate about Justice Department policies."

Republicans certainly do not seem to be playing around when it comes to properly protecting justices, and they're even less likely to let Democrats get away with their completely lacking responses. 

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