Armed man planning to kill Brett Kavanaugh over Roe v Wade is arrested near Supreme Court justice’s home

Suspect’s arrest comes as nation’s high court considers several controversial cases

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 08 June 2022 22:10 BST
Related video: What the US Supreme Court leak means for Roe v Wade and abortion rights in America

An armed man was arrested near the Maryland home of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, officials have confirmed to The Independent.

A criminal complaint filed in US District Court alleges that a California man named Nicholas John Roske was armed with pistol and two magazines with ammunition, a knife, pepper spray, zip ties and other tools like a crow bar and duct tape when he was taken into custody at 1.50am on 8 June.

The suspect allegedly called an emergency line and reported “having suicidal thoughts” and considered plans to “kill” a member of the Supreme Court, according to the complaint. He was still on the telephone with the emergency dispatch call taker when he was arrested.

Montgomery County police received the call for services at 1.40am near Justice Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, officials told The Independent.

He has been charged with threatening to kidnap or murder a Supreme Court justice and will remain in jail until a preliminary hearing scheduled for 22 June.

The Washington Post first reported the arrest and investigation.

According to the criminal complaint, the suspect was spotted by US Deputy Marshals getting out of a taxicab shortly after 1am carrying a backpack and suitcase.

He reportedly told officers that he was angry about a forthcoming decision on the 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade and abortion access in the US, as well as the recent massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

The suspect allegedly told a detective that he believed Justice Kavanaugh would “side with Second Amendment decisions that would loosen gun control laws,” according to the complaint.

In the coming days, the court is also expected to rule in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v Bruen, which will answer whether the Second Amendment “allows the government to prohibit ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense.”

He believed that killing the justice would “give his life a purpose,” the complaint says.

He told an FBI agent that he intended to kill Justice Kavanaugh and then himself.

“The man was armed and made threats against Justice Kavanaugh,” according to Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe. “He was transported to Montgomery County Police 2nd District.”

Maryland State Police and the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center are also providing assistance with the investigation, according to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

“I call on leaders in both parties in Washington to strongly condemn these actions in no uncertain terms,” he said in a statement. “It is vital to our constitutional system that the justices be able to carry out their duties without fear of violence against them and their families.”

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement to Fox News that President Joe Biden “condemns the actions of the individual in the strongest terms.”

“As the president has consistently made clear, public officials including judges must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety or that of their families, and any violence, threats of violence or threats to intimidate justices have no place in our society,” the statement said.

The arrest comes as the nation’s high court begins to issue more than two dozen rulings in a range of cases, including Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization; a leaked draft of the opinion shows that the court’s conservative majority will overrule the Roe ruling and its affirming ruling in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey, which affirmed constitutional protections for abortion access.

Abortion rights demonstrations outside the court and the homes of conservative justices and legislators have demanded that the justices maintain the rulings and urged officials to codify protections into law. The end of Roe is likely to make abortion care illegal or largely inaccessible in roughly half the US.

A memo from the US Department of Homeland Security also issued warnings about threats of violence related to the Dobbs case and the end of federal protections for abortion care.

The Supreme Court building – currently surrounded by fencing – has been closed to the public since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and justices have no longer issue their opinions from the bench; opinions are published on the court’s website on opinion-issuance days, and audio from oral arguments is broadcast live from the website.

One opinion was issued on 8 June. It is unclear whether Justice Kavanaugh was in the building at the time.

Republican US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose party has criticised the leak of the draft opinion, said that the alleged incident “is exactly the kind of event that many feared that a terrible breach of the court’s rules and norms could fuel.”

In remarks from the Senate floor on Wednesday, he urged the Democratically controlled House of Representatives to pass the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, which would extend police protection to the immediate families of the justices and other officers of the court.

“No more fiddling around with this,” he said.

Justice Kavanaugh was among three conservative justices nominated to the court by former president Donald Trump and confirmed in the Senate.

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