Two people familiar with the investigation said the initial evidence indicates that the man was angry about the leaked draft of an opinion by the Supreme Court signaling that the court is preparing to overturn Roe. v. wade, the 49-year-old decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to have an abortion. He was also angry over a recent spate of mass shootings, these people said.
Police were apparently notified that the person might pose a threat to the justice, but it was not immediately clear who provided the initial tip, these people said.
The man was arrested at about 1:50 am today, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement confirming the arrest.
Montgomery County police responded to a call for service early Wednesday morning in the area of Kavanaugh’s Chevy Chase home, where officers took a man into custody and transported him to a local police station, said Shiera Goff, a spokeswoman for the department.
This man was in the area some time between 1:14 and 1:45 am Wednesday and authorities believe this person “came in from out of state with the intent to kill Kavanaugh,” Goff said.
She declined to provide additional details on the man taken into custody.
The prospect of overturning Roe has amplified tensions at the court, where justices are circulating drafts of opinions and dissent. A final decision is expected this month or in early July.
There are signs of enhanced security around the justice system. A tall fence now encircles the court building, which remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement also has stepped up its presence outside many of their homes. Those who have traveled since the draft opinion was leaked are usually accompanied by bigger security details.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement that he was briefed on the incident and that it underscored why he pushed for extra security at the justices’ homes.
“I call on leaders in both parties in Washington to strongly condemn these actions in no uncertain terms,” Hogan said in the 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.
Robert Barnes, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Razzan Nakhlawi, Erin Cox, Carol D. Leonnig and Ann E. Marimow contributed to this report.